Despite the fact that EV sales are skyrocketing across Europe, the lack of charge points is still one of the major barriers for mass adoption. Broken chargers, few home charging options and non-transparent pricing are obstacles people face every day. This begs the question: Are more EVs really the solution to reaching net zero emission without a proper developed EV charging infrastructure in place first?
The EU introduced a new ICE vehicle ban by 2035, Norway by 2025, the UK by 2030 and the US aims for 50% of new car sales to be EVs by 2030. Globally a ticking timer has been set on reaching net zero emissions within transportation.
Or has there?
With little focus on the charging infrastructure, EV owners will continue to complain about the sorry state of EV charging. And with good reason. It’s complicated, expensive and a valid reason for not buying an EV anytime soon. In order to demolish the poor infrastructure argument we need to tackle EV charging from new angles.
Why EV charging is problematic today
According to EV owners, charging an EV is one of the worst experiences as a driver. A 2022 report surveying more than 11.000 EV and plug-in hybrid owners found that one in five ended up not charging their vehicle after locating a charge point. 72 % of the ones who didn’t charge said it was due to a malfunction. This means that more EVs on our roads won’t help us reach our ambitious climate goals if charging publicly isn’t an option for 20% of the EV drivers. The same argument is actually true for home charging.
Some have their own driveway, others don’t. And for the latter group, millions of people living in flats and townhouses do not have the option to install their own charge point. In fact, more than 25% of UK households do not have access to parking outside their homes, which leaves them dependent on public, workplace or destination charging.
On top of this, EV charging has become extremely expensive. Even without the costly energy prices everyone is facing at the moment, an EV charger alone costs between 800 and 1,000 GBP, and if you need new cables you’re easily looking at a couple of extra thousands pounds for the entire setup.
With so many bumps in the road still, more EVs will only give e-mobility a bad name if we don’t take action. Should we stop buying and producing EVs? No. Should we rethink how we use our existing EV charging infrastructure and optimize it as much as possible? Yes!
How community-led EV charging is a no-brainer
Just like Airbnb made it easy to share our homes with strangers and solve a housing problem for travelers, so does community-led EV charging when it comes to charge points and EV drivers. By sharing charge points in our local community, we will instantly remove a lot of the pain points associated with EV charging, while moving closer to reaching net zero.
Sharing charge points lower the cost
First of all, sharing a charge point between two or more people minimizes the cost of buying and installing the hardware. If your local community either has a parking lot or an area accessible to everyone, you can set up charge points to help everyone charge their car. This lowers the cost and helps EV drivers without a driveway. A positive side-effect of community serving chargers is that residents without a driveway can leverage smart charging to charge when electricity is cheapest and cleanest.
Sharing charge points increases the number of available charge points
At the same time, community shared charge points can serve as destination charging for people outside the community. This is especially relevant during the weekends when people travel to a summerhouse area with few public charge points or when they simply just visit friends or family away from home. Not only does it increase the number of available charge points - often in areas where public charge points are scarce - but it lowers the CP/EV ratio, which is higher in most countries than the recommended 1/10.
By sharing the community’s charge points with more and more people, the need for planning becomes an element to think of. Luckily, one of the benefits of community-led charging is that the community can schedule when outsiders can charge their car. A good rule of thumb for semi-public charging is that everyone can charge during the day but only members of the community can charge during nighttime.
Sharing charge points is sustainable and profitable
If the traffic to and from the community’s charge points becomes too much for the local residents, they always have the option to either close them completely off to the public or they can turn them into profit centers. By setting a margin on top of the electricity spot price - either a fixed amount or a percentage - they can have visitors paying for EV charging at a rate they decide. More and more communities are implementing different price groups, meaning that members of the community are paying the spot price of electricity, while visitors pay a margin on top. This is a win-win situation because EV drivers get access to a wider and better charging network, while local communities can set up a sustainable and profitable charging solution
Do community charge points solve the problem of EV charging being the worst experience for EV drivers? In some cases yes, since the software required to offer the above options are among the most stable and legacy-free software solutions out there. For people living without a driveway or far away from the big cities, community-led EV charging can play a vital role in making the charging experience and network better and wider. Just like Airbnb disrupted an industry and made travel accessible to the majority of people, so do community-led EV charging when it comes to our charging infrastructure. And with a proper charging infrastructure in place, where sharing is just as natural as in the travel industry, we are one step closer to reaching net zero.