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Where can you charge an EV?

Adam Bastock explains why you no longer need a driveway to charge an electric car
You no longer need a driveway if you want an electric car

The ban on the sale of new petrol or diesel internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will come into effect in nine years, meaning electric vehicles (EVs) are the future. 

But are they viable now if you don’t have a driveway? Yes – and here’s why. 

First, some facts. Cars are parked 95% of the time (23 hours a day) and the average commute is under 20 miles. Most people drive under 120 miles a week. 

Working on this assumption, an EV with 150-200 miles of range would need a full charge once a week. 

But where are you going to charge if not at home? The three key spots are supermarkets, the workplace and on-street chargers.

Charging EVs at work

For most EV drivers, when the car’s not at home it’s at the workplace. On a domestic-equivalent charger, being plugged and parked for six hours would add around 150 miles of range. 

It costs businesses around £1,500 to install one of these chargers, with up to 75% of the cost covered by government grants. They are often free of charge to employees, but some workplaces do charge for use. 

Most business premises, unlike homes, have three phase power needed for 22kw fast chargers too. Despite being more expensive to install, businesses seem keen to adopt them.

22,000 were installed in 2018, and we would expect these figures to increase thanks to the Benefit in Kind tax incentives for company cars and fleets introduced in 2020. 

Public rapid chargers

But what about the times your workplace charger is unavailable? Rapid chargers act in a similar way to a traditional petrol station.

While domestic chargers add around 20 miles of range per hour, rapid chargers – as the name suggests – are much faster, adding 140 miles per hour.
Around 9,000 rapid chargers were installed as of December of 2020 – up 39% from the year before.

Commonly found at petrol or service stations, they are also in community spaces too such as supermarkets and public car parks.

Some local businesses install them to generate additional revenue, too – so it’s worth checking a local map to see what’s available. Locations aren’t always obvious.

Supermarkets are the most convenient of these options, giving a full charge while you do the weekly shop.

Lidl is installing more rapid chargers than all the other retailers combined, though Tesco recently partnered with PodPoint to install more. Most supermarkets use the slower 7kw chargers.   

On-street EV charging

Finally, curb-side EV chargers are being installed by councils. Typically installed in lampposts and other existing street furniture, they charge at a rate of 7-20 miles per hour, depending on the system.

With cars typically parked overnight for 8+ hours, charging doesn’t need to be fast. 

Sadly curb-side EV chargers are still rare outside London, however the technology has been proven to work so adoption should accelerate.

Coventry, Reading, Brighton, Portsmouth and Amersham are some of the early adopters of solutions from Chargy and CityEV.

Could you switch to an EV?

So, could you live with an EV without a driveway? Yes.

Workplace charging is by far the most suitable for those without a driveway, but we’re seeing more and more alternatives also installed at supermarkets and on terraced streets.

Rapid chargers are popping up in more locations, and can be a good backup for emergencies.   

Unless you have exceptional driving habits, current EVs are suitable for most people, even without a driveway.

We welcome the improvement of range and battery technology, but as of 2021, existing EVs will fit into most people’s lives with only minor behavioural changes – just remember to plug in when you park!

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