Day Two of the EV SUMMIT 2023: The Summit is coming to the US

  • The second day of the EV Summit saw industry leaders from Geotab, Kempower, GRIDSERVE, Arval UK, EY and local authorities provide detailed insight into the EV world.
  • Whilst the volume of charging infrastructure in the ground is positive, location of the infrastructure on the site and the amenities around it is still problematic.
  • Solutions for charging need to be more varied, with a mix of destination and transit charging needed to support everyone in the transition to electric.

After another enlightening day at the EV SUMMIT, we’ve come away with challenges to overcome, and solutions to enact. But, perhaps the most exciting news of all was the revelation that the EV SUMMIT will be taking these questions across the pond.

Charge point operators must ensure that their charging sites are accessible and reliable.

A recurring theme is the need for more consideration of physical charging sites. Charger units need to be in well-lit spots, that are well signposted and are easy to use with drivers able to tap and charge. Kate Tyrell of ChargeSafe said they have found that 77% of sites are insufficiently lit and 68% aren’t covered by security cameras. 

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Drivers want to feel safe and secure when they charge. Therefore, they will actively choose sites that offer these basic amenities over nearby sites without it. These sites also need to be reliable. Jussi Vanhannen at Kempower highlighted the 99%+ reliability rate they’ve achieved.  He stated that the rest of the charging industry should be targeting the same, if not even better.

Felicity Kelly of Motability highlighted that of their 700,000 cars for those with disabilities over 30,000 are now EV. What’s more, a large number of public chargers are not accessible for those with disabilities. Those drivers may struggle with accessing the charger, or the payment. 

We need to change our perspective on charge point installation. While we’re aware of the speed that’s necessary to facilitate widespread adoption, additional thought must be given to the accessibility of our charge points. As the panel pointed out, the accessible sites of today, will be the profitable sites of the future. 

Different groups and areas need different charging solutions. 

Councils are working hard to create solutions for their residents. Both Suffolk and Solihull councils have examined how to best serve both residents and those visiting their districts.

One of the UK’s first community-based car charging hubs has been launched in Suffolk. The 7kW chargers in use are fully compatible with contactless payments, for ease of use. In Solihull, the council have identified demand due to a lack of driveways, and are trying to meet the needs of those without access to home charging. 

The solution for the council has been the installation of 157 charging spaces across 9 locations. The goal is to displace on-street demand and move it into council-operated car parks. Then, the drivers can pay to park and charge in a single transaction. 

Those 9 sites are just the beginning. Solihull Council is looking to open more charge points on their own land. To expand further, they’re opening conversations with organisations like the parish council. Partnerships are the key to unlocking infrastructure. EV drivers in Solihull and Suffolk are already feeling the benefits. 

Hannah Budnitz, Research Associate at the Transport Studies Unit of the University of Oxford, stated that we need to expand our EV rhetoric beyond just cars. Her fantastic report highlighted the decarbonisation strategies being employed in forward-thinking nations around the world. A holisti approach, where cars are part of the wider emobility ecosystem, could be essential to hitting our goals. 

Sometimes though, driving EV adoption forward can feel an uphill battle. 

GRIDSERVE’s CEO, Toddington Harper, reminded us all why reaching net zero is so crucial. We are at 1.1-1.2 degrees of warming and are already experiencing the effects of climate change. In recent years, we’ve seen extreme weather, wildfires, and the highest CO2 concentration recorded in 2 million years. If we have any hope of keeping to the Paris target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, we need emissions to peak by 2025 and reduce emissions by 43% by 2030. 

The Electric Frieghtway, a concept first introduced at the EV SUMMIT back in 2018, is well and truly underway. That’s GRIDSERVE’s initiative to build a connected system of eHGV charge points across the UK, which has the potential power to decarbonise a huge chunk of our road emissions.

The problem, then, comes in the democratisation of EV ownership. As Lakshmi stated, we must avoid electric vehicles becoming a privilege for those who can afford it. For emobility to work, it must be catered to all audiences and industries.

Lakshmi Moorthy, Managing Director of Arval UK, expressed that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to EV ownership. Treating each case with it’s due care and diligence will uncover emobility options for all circumstances. Not to mention the wider tech benefits that emobility promises to bring to the world. 

The State of the Nation

ElectricDrives’ own panel, ‘The State of the EV Nation: Where is EV UK in terms of technology, sustainability, availability and policy?’ came in as the final discussion of the day.

The speakers discussed several key points regarding the adoption of EVs. Isobel Sheldon emphasized the need for a diverse range of EV models available at different price points and capabilities to address private buyers’ concerns. 

Melanie Shufflebotham, Co-Founder of Zapmap highlighted the need to improve charging infrastructure and ensure a reliable and satisfactory experience for users. This sentiment was backed up by Osprey Charging’s Dora Clarke, who emphasises the need for transparent and reliable charging networks. This necessity is especially prevalent in public charging points. A positive charging experience is essential to give drivers the confidence they need to switch to EV.

EY’s Emobility Lead, Maria Bengtsson, pointed out that uncertain policies hinder investment decisions. Citing Norway as an example, Maria stated that investors were given the confidence to spend knowing that they would receive returns within three to five years. This is only made possible by strong, confident government policies. The UK government’s unwillingness to commit to firm timeframes has had the opposite effect for investors in this country. 

Government support was identified as essential to promote local job creation and adherence to rules of origin. Additionally, the cost-effectiveness of home charging versus destination charging was discussed, with a focus on reducing the price barrier for consumers. 

Auto Trader’s Catherine Faiers provided insights backed by the extensive data gathered through Auto Trader’s sales platforms. The positive news is that the market is adapting. Over 71% of new EVs seen on the Auto Trader platform come with attached sales offers. Even used EVs are gaining popularity due to corrected pricing. This indicating a positive trend for consumers exploring the switch to EV.

The EV SUMMIT is coming to the US.

Marc Coltelli, Managing Director and Global Emobility Leader for EY, took to the stage to close the show with an incredible announcement.  

He focused on the development of EV infrastructure in the United States and Canada. While those territories are, for the most part, trailing behind the top adopters in Europe and Asia, the market is beginning to turn.

Marc highlighted the substantial gap in charging station numbers, particularly in the US, where only 150 chargers were available by mid-2022. He underscored the importance of bringing together the supply chain ecosystem to expedite EV production. 

Finally, Marc announced that EY, a long-time supporter of the EV SUMMIT, is expanding the event to the United States. This is a huge step forward for the industry in the US, as operators seek to expand their reach and bring emobility to perhaps the most infamous car-loving nation in the world. 

The EV SUMMIT 2023 served as a reminder, and a call to arms, that it’s up to us the make change. Collaboration is the best chance we’ll have of limiting global warming and the impact of climate change. 

What can we achieve through collaboration? Put simply; clarity, confidence, reliability, and most importantly of all, understanding. As an industry we must understand the needs of drivers, both EV and otherwise. A theme that echoed across the summit was that to bring about change, emobility doesn’t need to be as good as driving an ICE car, it needs to be better. 

The EV Summit is back in 2024 in the UK, and we eagerly await further details of the upcoming US edition. So, we’ll see you in 2024!

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