How many degrees from normal is owning an electric vehicle?

We’re creatures of habit, it’s literally how our brains are wired, so anything that might push us too far away from our well-trodden routines are usually rejected.  So how far away from normal is an electric vehicle (EV)?

Imagine a compass with north being the direction you find the most normal. When you’re navigating life, you want the easiest path you can take to reach normal north. You might be able to tolerate a few degrees either side of your true north because you’re still heading in the right direction but, at a point, you’ll find that you’re not going where you want to.

Say you’ve just gone from owning a petrol car to a diesel vehicle. There are some changes you need to make. You have to remember to refuel with the black hose and not the green one at the petrol station. When you consider the compass metaphor, that’s a tiny degree of change. Your routines are almost identical. It’s north, it’s normal and it’s easy.

Have you ever switched your phone from an iPhone to an Android? Does thinking about this fill you with dread? On one hand, it’s not really deviating from your normal routine because it’s touch screen, you make phone calls, and you go on the internet. On the other hand, everything looks different, you have no idea how to turn it off and all your old cables don’t work anymore. Going back to the compass, do those changes you have to make pull you too far off course from north?

How many degrees of compromise or change on that compass is acceptable? When is it too far from normal? How many degrees from normal is it?

How many degrees from normal is recharging your electric vehicle?

If you’re a petrol or diesel driver and switching to an electric vehicle, then somethings have to change, and some of those changes are a lot of degrees from normal.

The biggest change is that we now fill our cars with kWh electrons and not with litres of fuel. These electrons are delivered through a myriad of different options and fill your tank more slowly than we’re used to with fuel. You’ve got type 1 and type 2 chargers, slow chargers, fast chargers, rapid chargers, and whatever comes next. This change and choice means your deviating from north.  If we’re going to make the EV transition happen, we need to understand how many degrees from normal each of these options carry and how many degrees a mainstream customer base is ready to accept.

For example, lots of solutions require a driver to carry a charging cable in their boot – this isn’t normal, no-one carries a petrol hose in their boot.  So how many degrees from normal is this and is it too many?

EV “filling stations” charge at different speeds from achingly slow to expensively quick. Working out which to use and when requires considerable mental arithmetic.  Is that too many degrees from normal?

For those who can’t park off-street, there are even more options. Some require you to hunt for a suitable lamppost, while others ask the driver to carry a harpoon in their boot to stab the pavement, all a long way off normal but are they by too many degrees?

How many degrees from normal is too much for you?

Early adopters have made the decision that the degrees of change required were worth it. For some, simply the method of refuelling may be enough to unsteady the ship – not driving to a petrol station and filling up when the needle is on empty. For others, this change can be counter-balanced with the convenience of being able to charge at home and waking up every day with a car ready to go. For those who can’t home charge, inconvenience may start to creep in and tip the compass a few too many degrees from the ‘north’ they’re comfortable with. This is where the importance of understanding the degrees of deviation is important. How many degrees from north are we asking people to deviate if they can’t charge when and where they need to? What will they find acceptable and at what point does it all go south?



Who are the 5%?

Net-zero data consultancy launches JumpStart, a local authority tool set for EV charging infrastructure planning

So, where exactly are all the EVs?

90% of households in Great Britain that rely on public charging for EV’s are not within close walking distance of a charger.

BuyBy vs BuyFor: How fleets will drive demand for charging infrastructure.

Imagine going to work and being given a laptop without a charger. If you’re expected to work every day, you’re going to need to find a way to charge it. The same can be said for the future of fleets. With companies snapping up Low Carbon Vehicles, they’re going to need a way to top up their batteries to be able to work.

Most Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the roads today belong to earlier adopters. Owners have bought their vehicles (BuyBy) to support a change in their lifestyle. As fleets adopt EVs, drivers will have their vehicles bought for them (BuyFor) as requisite to do their job. With around 25% of properties in the UK not having off-street parking, this change will instigate a huge change in the demand for charging infrastructure.


Dwarfing the BuyBy drivers

38,000 Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were registered on our roads last year, and most of these sales were private. Private owners are willing to invest in the high-cost technology and, most importantly, have the space on their property to accommodate the charging needed to support their journeys. As adoption is based on product fit an availability, uptake is slow and spread out across geographical areas.

Compared to the 1.5 million cars registered by the corporates in 2019, private registrations are a drop in the electric ocean. Corporate demand for EVs is consistently rising, so it’s safe to assume that in the coming years this part of the market will dwarf private sales.


The issues for BuyFor drivers

BuyFor drivers don’t have a choice in the vehicle they get, they’re just expected to do their job. We’ve already discussed the drastic difference in mileage between personal and business drivers in a previous article. To keep it brief, in order for business drivers to do their job, they’ll need 5 x more charge compared to BuyBy users. They’ll have to rely on overnight charging, but nearly a quarter just don’t have the space.

Organisations tend to buy in bulk, so while this issue isn’t really important now, it won’t take long for that to change. Fleets also tend to be localised, so depending on the city figures for household that can’t charge overnight at home could be a lot higher.

As an example of scale, let’s look at BT Openreach. Their goal is to be Net Zero by 2045, and their fleet accounts for a staggering 66% of their operations emissions. In the combined commercial fleet, there are roughly 30,500 vehicles that they’re looking to shift to Low Carbon/Electric vehicles. Using our analysis of off-street parking in Great Britain (EV Map) 24.6% of these drivers won’t be able to charge overnight. That’s 7995 workers that won’t be able to do their job. This example only looks at one company, when you start to replicate this out across other organisations with large fleet holdings the scale of the issue becomes clear.

When the supply of EVs catches up for the demand, we’re going to see a lot more electric vehicles being bought by organisations for their workers. A lot of these workers will have to rely on public charging stations to be able to travel for their job. Local Authorities are going to have to act fast to preempt this demand and make the transition to low carbon fleets achievable.

As fleets go electric, nearly 25% of drivers don’t have anywhere to charge them.

In our last article, we discussed the impact fleets are going to have on EV ownership. In case you need a recap, 2019 saw 1,711,000 new vehicles registered to corporations. Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming an increasingly popular choice among companies as they try to align their fleets with lower emission or Net Zero initiatives.

As fleets move towards EVs, new issues will arise surrounding charging. For these drivers to be able to do their job, they’ll need to charge overnight. But, based on our analysis of residential parking (EV Map), 6,642,000 households in the UK don’t have the space to park and charge off street.


Business drivers will need 100kWh of charge per week

Business drivers will use their vehicles in a different way to private owners. Private owners typically do 3,100 miles per year, or around 60 miles per week. In contrast Business drivers do 18,000 miles per year, covering around 70 miles per day. Their mileage is done consecutively across the working week, so in order to keep working, these vehicles will need to be charged overnight.

If 1kWh of home charging provides 3.4 miles of range, these vehicles will need 100kWh of charge, or 20kwh per day, to keep them on the move. A typical overnight home charger is 7.2kW, this means that 3 hours of charging would cover this deficit.


Right now, each on street charger has to service 1492 vehicles…

Throughout our projects with electric vehicles, we’ve been researching residential charging availability (EV Map).

We analysed all 27 million households in Great Britain to understand whether they can or cannot park and charge an electric vehicle off street at home. Through this research, we determined that a staggering 24.6% of households don’t have access to off street parking. That’s 6,642,000 households that will need to need rely on our public charging network.

Our existing public infrastructure isn’t placed to support overnight charging – they’re located away from residential areas and placed in city centres, supermarkets and other short stay destinations. According to ZapMap, we have almost 17,000 public chargers, and only 4,453 are on-street. Without even considering their location, this works out to be roughly 1 on street charger for every 1492 households without parking.

On street charging provisions need to be increased dramatically to support those that are unable to charge overnight at home and allow them to do their jobs.


From a lifestyle change to a livelihood

As the way the country uses EVs changes, so will the needs of its residents. Right now, councils receive requests for chargers from earlier adopters who’re looking to change their lifestyle. Soon these requests will move from the superficial to something that people need in order to do their jobs. Investments in public networks will have to be well planned in order to protect the livelihoods of these residents and keep them moving.