Charging infrastructure – the smart money is on the data

By David Savage, vice president, UK and Ireland, Geotab

The Government is increasing its commitment to Electric Vehicles (EVs) as we approach the 2030 deadline date for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. But along with that target is a commitment to increase the charging infrastructure to meet the new demands.

The new Public Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure report is a meaty 100+ page document setting out the vision as to how we get there. With a promise of £1.6bn of spending to accelerate the infrastructure upgrade, it puts the emphasis on local governments to provide the changes needed for roadside charging.

This builds on Boris Johnson’s £12bn ‘Ten Point Plan’ for net-zero emissions and a green economy that will create 250,000 jobs. On top of this comes the DfT near-£1bn investment in the Rapid Charging Fund to finance the installation of rapid charging points across England’s motorway network through to 2035.

Private sector companies, such as bp, are also making huge investments in infrastructure to make sure EVs can stop and charge as though filling up at a regular gas station. Its bp pulse EV charging network aims to install up to 24,000 chargers this decade.

Even through all these efforts, a report from Policy Connect shows that we will need to install many more charging points to keep up with demand. It predicts we need five times as many as we are already installing.

Intelligent infrastructure

Faced with this conundrum, it pays to be smart about where and when we place the installations in the new charging infrastructure.

This is where anonymised data from telematics can really play a part. With tens of thousands of devices placed in fleet vehicles up and down the country, we can pinpoint the most efficient locations to invest in the new infrastructure network.

It’s called smart planning. We feel we have a major role to play in ensuring the DfT, local authorities and private companies are investing their resources in the right places.

Our latest integration with LEVC will allow us to pinpoint the driving habits and routes of London’s cab and van drivers. It will enable us to make sure we can use their data to equip London - and other cities - with the infrastructure they need to make their journeys effectively.

It’s clear from our latest EVSA report, Profitable Sustainability: The Potential of European Fleet Electrification, that we have a way to go. When looking specifically at cost effectiveness, the UK is outpaced by Continental Europe. Some 71% of EV matches in Italy were found to be both range capable and economical. Spain (70%) and Germany (69%) boast similar numbers. But the UK lags behind, with only 55% of fleet vehicles showing they had the range and economic effectiveness on the roads at the present time.

We’ll be looking into the reasons in more detail but it’s clear there is work to be done. The investment is clearly coming, but it needs smart decisions to work hand in hand with the money.

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