75% of the 1,392 Public Chargers in London Go 3 Months Without Getting Used

DEC 26 2013 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 14

These tales continue to come out of the UK.  In fact, they’re getting so common now that we have to pick and choose which ones we cover.

Here's One Being Used

Here’s One Being Used

“Tales” in this case refers to public chargers that go unused…sometimes for months.

As the Daily Mail reports, figures released under a Freedom of Information request reveal that of the 1,392 public chargers installed in London, only 349 were used between July and September of 2013.

The problem with that, as the Daily Mail reports, is that the chargers were largely funded by government money.

Per the Daily Mail:

“Installed at a cost of £8.3 million, 75 per cent failed to attract a single driver…”

“There are 8,600 publicly funded charging points across the UK, but only 16,546 electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles registered in the country.”

“The Government has invested £16 million on electric car infrastructure in Britain.”

So, the charging network is there, but it’s being under-utilized at the moment.  That’s okay with us.  As EVs hit the roads in even greater numbers, those chargers will get used (provided that the rate to charge is reasonable).  Or, to look at it in a different way, London is set today for the EV wave that’s coming in the future.

Source: Daily Mail

Categories: Charging

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14 Comments on "75% of the 1,392 Public Chargers in London Go 3 Months Without Getting Used"

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What do you want to bet the chargers are in bad locations?

…or perpetually ICEd.
…or ridiculously priced.
…or use an incredibly cumbersome authorization/activation system.
…or… Hey! If you ain’t using them, send them over here. I can single-handedly use a dozen of them multiple times every week 🙂

I typically charge 80% of the time on the two sets of free chargers (9 total) in my area, and if I go at lunch time or dinner time they are frequently all in use, so price is huge. There are 5 or 6 sets of chargers that charge from 75 cents to $1.50 and hour in my area as well. It makes me mad as he** using the $1.50 an hour at 3.3 kW charge rate (Thank You very much, Chevy! sarc/) so I forgo the pleasure usually.
But there is a charger near my favorite seafood pub I use regularly for an hour of juice and another near my favorite chinese joint and I use those two regularly. I guess my point is to second David’s comment. I don’t use chargers unless there is something worth doing nearby.

Unless I’m feeling particularly mad at OPEC that day, I usually won’t pay more for electricity (at 3.3 like you) than gas. I’ll pay the SAME, but not more, which by my rough calcs is about $1/kWh.

Of course in the UK with higher petrol prices, that could likely be $1.50-2.00 equivalent (something like 1-1.5 GBP).

If these are all level 2 chargers this outcome is fairly predictable. The low rate of charge rarely warrants a detour and if one needs to pay for use the extra miles usually pan out very expensive indeed further encouraging people to shun these chargers.

It seems ‘most’ people who buy/lease an ev have a charger at home(over 80%). And most will only buy/lease if the range of the EV can handle their round trip daily commute. Which means for most EV owners, there is no intention/no plan to charge at a public charger on a regular basis. Which also means the less use of public chargers, the better suited the EV is for the owners daily commute. This would be a good thing for the EV owner, and good for EV sales in general. Since the current misconception about driving an EV has a sales pitch like this: “Buy an EV, it’s fun to constantly worry about having enough power to get home. Just add ‘search for charging station’ on every trip you take. Then just plug-in. It only costs twice what it costs to charge at home, but hopefully someone will see you drive an EV and won’t you feel proud. You’re saving the planet! Surly you can find something to do for the hour or three it will take to charge up so you can get home.” But as the second gen EVs are about to hit the roads in 2014/2017 with… Read more »
True statement “most will only buy/lease if the range of the EV can handle their round trip daily commute.” — most EV miles get driven by folks who know confidently that they can reach their destination because they can reach their charger at home or work. The question is what prevents people from driving further than their local commute and using a public charger. Is it – cost of paying for a charge (I do not think so) – is there a public charger at a convenient location (more likely) – fear that charger will be busy or ICEs (big problem) – a wish that they could reserve and pay in advance for a guaranteed charger time slot (this is my main gripe) I know it sounds crazy to say this when 75% or chargers go unusued, but I think we still have too few public chargers. When you consider that every single building has electricity, there should be L2 chargers or 240V outlets everywhere. Let’s have some at every Starbucks, every mall, every movie theater! I do not believe in “range anxiety”, but I do think “charger anxiety” is what makes people like myself take an ICE vehicle on… Read more »

If I ever became some type of millionaire I would build hundreds of EV chargers but they would be all minimum level 3 fast chargers and they would be located at places people would want to go such as shops and malls and restaurants and even parks or road side attractions.

But I would not waste money like putting them in places that turn off people such as a rest areas unless it’s a DC fast charger.

As for level two chargers I picture that they would do really well at hotels where people do stop over night to plug in their cars.

I disagree. There is a HUGE cost difference between installing an L2 and an L3 station. And if you are putting a station at a Mall, then an L2 station works just fine, especially for cars that have 6kw or more onboard chargers. So you can go shopping for 2 hours and gain 40 miles of range. I think that’s quite reasonable.

And this is the thing I was getting at in my first post. An L3 charger will get used almost anywhere as long as there are people in the area with EV’s that can use them. People don’t mind driving to a lone Walgreens and sitting there for 10 or 15 minutes. But an L2 station MUST be placed in areas where people expect to spend some time. Otherwise, they will never get used.

This is the fallacy that gets all these crappy locations with chargers. The simple fact is that in most cases it simply is more of a hassle to use a public charger than not because (pick any number that apply) a) you won’t be there that long, b) it won’t put that many miles on your car, c) it costs too much compared with your home charger. The simple fact is these chargers have been sited by people that don’t drive EV. In the US, a huge number of chargers were driven off of a government program that rewarded the grantees for putting in chargers, not ones in good locations. Also, companies wanted to appear green (like Walgreens) so they allowed L2s to be put in, completely ignoring the fact that people are there for less than an hour so no one will plug in. The system wide average utilization of chargers in the Blink and Chargepoint networks is so low that, on average, each charger gets one visit per day. Take a look at the Sun Country Highway in Canada. Set up by people who use and understand EVs. You can go coast to coast using high amp L2… Read more »

Addendum. I have to disagree with the “put an L3 and they will come”. It still takes time to charge at high current. Look at the Tesla SC network. A lot of care has gone into placing them at locations that have amenities, coffee shops, restaurants and so on. Even at 120KW, you will still have some time to kill. My last supercharge took about 30 minutes. Coffee and potty break was perfect timing. it was a good experience. So, the DCFCs at dealers will get under utilized. Sitting in a dealer waiting room is one step up from the dentist. Good siting is the key to a good charge network. Just like in real estate, Location, Location, Location.

I agree with David Murray … there is a huge difference between L2 and L3.

L3 is an expensive machine that converts electricty to DC and supplies it to the car, L2 is basically a safety interconnect that supplies unconverted utility power to the car. L2 prices are dropping fast, and will continue to do so. L3 prices will also drop, but the gap will remain huge.

Every single building has the ability to support L2 charging, very few can do L3. Right now each L3 can get a $30k subsidy from the government, but that changes in 5 days.

If our goal is to have charging in many places, available for a reasonable price, then think L2.

Why does no one ask, nor listen to EV Drivers?

Some examples of policy issues around London … Funny thing, we never hear comments like this from Norway!

“Managed to get a charging spot @westfieldlondon however every other slot taken up by ICE cars – very poor” via “@jontracey: #ukcharge http://twitter.com/jontracey/status/402790453604777984/photo/1
The problem … “here is there oboes, this is just crazy” via @jontraceyhttp://twitter.com/jontracey/status/402895997707517952/photo/1

“Never understand why EV Street Charging Bays in London are Only controlled Mon-Sat? What about Sunday???” via @evmeerkat
http://twitter.com/evmeerkat/status/410009055202398208/photo/1
http://c-zero.info/cz/never-understand-why-ev-street-charging-bays-in-london-are-only-controlled-mon-sat-what-about-sunday/

Ironic example of why “2/3 of London’s electric car charging points are not used” via @evmeerkat
pic.twitter.com/bkfKdukdxs

Being a UK EV driver in the Midlands I would feedback on three issues. 1. Location Chargers are getting installed in some great places such as the motorway (highway) network thanks to the work of Ecotricity making longer journeys possible. However they appear mostly in area where people won’t be in a rush to own an EV. I hate to say it but Asda (Walmart) and Chargemaster/Polar install posts at supermarkets where people choose a value chicken over organic because of the cost. These are in areas that people are on benefits and low paid jobs where owning a £5000 car would be seen as flash never mind a £20,000 one. 2. Reliability of charging and information I have been to posts where my card has been refused however after a call works, the post is still ‘initialising’ the other spare post is either offline or inaccesible due to ICE vehicles in the spaces. The car is great but if I can’t charge it I want to give in, it taints the whole EV charging experience. A 5 year old multi-storey car park connected to a shopping mall lists 100 EV charging point online (Wow) until you get there and… Read more »