Most EV drivers prepared to pay to reserve a charging bay

A new study has found that 67 per cent of EV drivers in the UK are prepared to pay a premium to reserve a public charging bay.

The lack of availability and accessibility of current EV charge points, coupled with damaged infrastructure, incompatibility and inadequate payment options is causing frustration amongst UK electric vehicle drivers.

The study of over 1,000 UK EV drivers by SMS explores the current customer experience of using, and relying on, public EV charge points. Despite an almost ubiquitous love of their EV (94 per cent), 67 per cent of UK EV drivers wish they’d known more about public EV charging availability before they’d transitioned to electric.

It found that over a quarter (27 per cent) are willing to part with up to £10, and 33 per cent up to £5. A further 7 per cent would even be prepared to go higher at over £10, all to avoid ‘charge anxiety’.

It uncovers that although we’re seeing an exponential growth in the home EV charging market, a mere 5 per cent of respondents rely solely on this option to power their vehicle. In reality, a fifth (20 per cent) of EV drivers surveyed remain completely reliant on public EV charging due to having no charge points available to them at home or at work. A further 33 per cent use public EV charge points a lot, with 31 per cent only sometimes, and only 15 per cent stated ‘rarely’.

Surprisingly, 70 per cent of EV drivers still have limited public charging options in their area. This leads to a staggering 81 per cent of EV drivers having to wait for a public charge point, with a third spending 30 mins to an hour (30 per cent), and 27 per cent between one to two hours before they could access a much needed recharge.

The survey also found:

  • Over three-quarters (77 per cent) have been unable or unwilling to access a public EV charge point. 36 per cent stated that this was because they are out of order / broken, and for 27 per cent it was simply that they weren’t available.

  • An additional 18 per cent of EV drivers found the EV charge points were not compatible with their vehicle, and for 15 per cent they didn’t have their preferred payment option.

  • Worryingly, 17 per cent of respondents have avoided using public EV charge points because the location didn’t feel safe.

  • 68 per cent of EV drivers admitted it is stressful to always have to think about
    public charging availability when they take a long journey.

Mark Winn, Head of EV Strategy at SMS explained: “Home EV charging may be on the rise, but it’s critical that the UK’s growing number of EV drivers have adequate access to fully functioning public EV charge points while they are on the move. However, in the race to meet EV charging expectations, targets and market share, companies have deployed – and continue to install – the wrong type of chargers, in the wrong location. Added to this, the payment options are either substandard or created to monopolise the market, and infrastructure maintenance seems to be firmly off the ‘to-do’ list. This is creating a ‘perfect storm’ of customer dissatisfaction, frustration and charge anxiety for EV drivers, and the future of electric motoring in the UK is coming under unfair scrutiny as a result. We simply must do more.”

Interestingly, the SMS study points out that public EV charge point infrastructure doesn’t just benefit drivers, it can be a huge boost to businesses and the local economy. Within the last year, of those polled:

  • 41 per cent used EV charge points in a public car park. Almost half (49 per cent) had used a public EV charge point at a supermarket and 28 per cent at an out of town shopping centre or retail park.

  • 29 per cent accessed public EV charge points when staying overnight at a hotel for business and the same number (29 per cent) when staying overnight at a hotel for leisure.

  • Two-fifths (40 per cent) had charged up at a motorway service station. Interestingly, nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) stated that past experiences and availability of EV charging influences their choice of motorway service station.

Mark Winn added: “While we need to exponentially increase the quantity of EV charge points in multiple locations this cannot be at the expense of their quality. Not all EV charge points are created equal and the type required varies depending on where it’s being installed and who is using it. EV infrastructure always needs to be planned with three Rs in mind: right time, right location and right speed. EV may be a nascent market, but this doesn’t mean that there is any excuse for providing the public with substandard EV charging solutions. If we want to avoid a public backlash against EV adoption, then greater due diligence must be applied to EV charge point installation deals.”

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