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How electric vehicle technology is assisting the journey from pump to plug

Michelle Machesney

Michelle Machesney

EV Solutions Director for TSG UK
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Electric Vehicle Charging

Growth in EV sales has been far greater than expected in recent years, however, a severe lack of charging infrastructure threatens to slow progress. Michelle Machesney, EV Solutions Director for TSG UK, explains how the latest technologies are helping to improve this situation, ensuring a seamless end-to-end customer experience – from pump to plug.

So far this year, more than 100,000 new EVs have been registered in the UK, an increase of 143% year-on-year. Demand for these vehicles is growing faster than anyone predicted, driven by government commitments to end the use of petrol and diesel vehicles and the powerful force of consumer concern.

When I moved from TSG’s petrol division to EVs in 2019, the sector was viewed as a slow-burner, however, the years that followed tell a different tale. Today, we have a greater understanding of the impact of climate change and most consumers are concerned about this pressing issue.

Choosing an EV is one of the few tangible actions most people can take to reduce their carbon footprint. To have the greatest impact, we need to make the experience of using an EV as easy as possible and technology can help us to achieve this.

Breaking down barriers

Despite the growing sales trajectory, there is a long way to go. The government has committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 in its ‘Road to Zero’ initiative but this on its own is not enough.

We need a strong network of charging infrastructure to meet demand for EVs, which will help to break down barriers and normalise EV use over the next decade. Technological developments are key to this shift, from streamlining and up-scaling the installation of charging technology, to developing longer-lasting batteries and high-power rapid chargers.

‘Range anxiety’

The distance an EV will travel on a single charge is a concern very much caught up with lack of charging point infrastructure.

New EVs benefit from powerful lithium-ion batteries that can last for up to 300 miles without the need to charge. Ultra-rapid chargers (350kw) have the power to provide some EVs with a range of 100 miles in just 5 minutes.

However, ensuring continuity of service is a challenge for destinations in the face of a rapidly evolving sector. Some older EVs may not be compatible with the latest hardware. Upgrading is of course an option, but if starting from scratch, it’s best to choose an agnostic supplier that can create a future proof system that works with all available hardware options.

Convenient charging

There is work to be done in educating ‘destinations’, such as retail outlets and supermarkets on the value of offering EV charging facilities on-site. Becoming an EV charging destination can potentially attract more customers, with visitors likely to stay for longer.

For workplaces, EV charge points highlight commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and encourage staff to take a greener approach to commuting. With high power rapid chargers positioned at shopping centres, leisure facilities and workplaces, ‘re-fuelling’ an EV has the potential to be more convenient than visiting a petrol station.

Up-scaling installations

To further combat ‘range anxiety’, we need to upscale charging point installations.

We already have more EV charging points than petrol stations in the UK but according to think tank Policy Exchange, we need to install charging points five times faster in the 2020s than the previous decade. From 2017 to 2020, an average of 7,000 charging points were installed every year; we will need to increase this to 35,000 per year throughout the decade if we are to meet demand.

Turning to technology

So how do we fulfil this requirement for a five-fold increase in installations? The installation process needs to be streamlined, providing a transparent and seamless journey from initial specification through to final installation.

Innovative new project management software allows EV charge point installers to self-certify their work, upload pictures and supporting documents, automatically generate quotes and manage jobs. With all this managed from a mobile app, the implementation and maintenance processes are simplified and barriers are removed, allowing for a large-scale increase in installations.

Flexible future

The transition to EVs is a huge change to the status quo. To ensure a seamless transition, end-to-end services need to be streamlined and integrated, making it easy for everyone involved, from private customers and destinations to EV installers and businesses.

There is a place for EV charging points anywhere that we stop – from home to work and everywhere in between, enabling drivers to fit charging vehicles around their own lifestyle.

As the number of charging point installations continues to grow at such a rapid pace over the next decade and beyond, the latest charging technology, installation software and ‘agnostic’ hardware will ensure that supply can meet demand.

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