Thursday, March 9, 2017

The need for electric vehicle infrastructure, now.

At the moment there's only a few hundred EV's (Electric Vehicles) on the road in South Africa. Public charging points are scarce but considering an EV right now is a fairly considerable investment, I'm sure purchasers of these vehicles considered their charging needs and options before parting with their cash.

As EV's drop in price and more people realise the savings they can make on their fuel and maintenance bill by buying an electric vehicle, sales of electric cars will rapidly pick up. When EV sales do start to gather pace, it will be important that the public charging infrastructure is sufficient to handle the charging needs of the EV owners.

If electric vehicle sales start to rocket before there are sufficient public charging points then we might see charging point congestion and queues in the near future, together with the inevitable frustration of those wanting to charge their vehicle. The electric vehicle infrastructure needs to stay one step ahead of electric vehicle sales so when somebody purchases an electric car they know they won't have any trouble finding a charging point and when they do they won't have to queue to use it.

Electric vehicle charging won't be like filling your ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car with petrol or diesel, you won't go to a dedicated filling/charging station, unless perhaps on a freeway journey. Charging points will be everywhere, by the side of the road, in shopping centre car parks, outside restaurants, literally anywhere where people will park there cars.

You'll charge your car while shopping, or eating a meal, or sleeping in a hotel. It won't be something you'll have to go out of your way to do (like filling up with petrol), you'll do it while going about your regular daily tasks. The only time you'll need to seek out a dedicated charging destination will be on long intercity journeys. I imagine the large service stations dotted along our freeways will expand the services they offer, to occupy motorists and their passengers while they wait for their vehicle to charge.

Businesses who offer their customers charging will undoubtedly become the preferred destinations of EV drivers. It'll be a way of making a little extra revenue for the business via charging fees and maybe encouraging their customers to stay a little longer and spend a little more while their vehicle is charging. Maybe shopping centres could offer free charging to customers who spend over a certain amount, a bit like many offer free parking at the moment. Restaurants could offer free charging for those customers who also buy dessert, thus encouraging their patrons to spend a little bit more money in their establishment.

Though the rise in electric vehicle sales will come from the ground up, from the consumer, when the price is right. It is the responsibility of the government and the motor industry to work with third parties to get the charging infrastructure in place first.

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