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Low carbon vehicles must be centred on consumers to succeed

1 February 2017

Liam Lidstone
Liam Lidstone Strategy Manager

Such a large transition will take time and will be necessary to cater for the mixture of vehicle types that will exist at any one time during the switchover. To be successful, electric vehicles need to be designed to meet the needs of “mainstream” consumers not just people with an interest in this area. A large scale uptake from the mass market will have a major impact on the country’s electricity supply and future systems have to be designed today to incorporate any such dramatic movements in demand, because of the lifetime of the assets involved.

The vehicles and charging arrangements designed must be attractive to consumers who will need simple, unobtrusive but effective solutions.

Our analysis to date shows that home recharging followed by workplace charging are the most important locations and a 3kW charge rate – the power rating of a standard domestic socket – should be sufficient for most users’ needs. Developing a public network infrastructure for vehicle recharging is a very high risk investment and our analysis would suggest it is not needed to meet the UK’s 2050 energy and climate targets.

Enterprises such as shopping centres may see commercial advantages in offering charging facilities to encourage more use of their facilities but there also needs to be investment in rapid charging points (minutes rather than hours) as a medium term option. This is where existing motorway networks could be utilised as they occupy the locations and points in journeys where rapid charging would be of most benefit to consumers.

The key point is that the energy supply for electric vehicles has to provide effective solutions delivering enough charge in the time consumers need it – and cater for occasions that are unexpected. So a clear understanding of both consumer needs, the likely demand this will create and how the energy system should be designed to accommodate them are vital to enable any successful low carbon vehicle transition.

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