There is no doubt that the worldwide electric car recharging network is playing catch-up with the industry. As we mentioned in some of our earlier articles, the battery element and the recharging element of the sector have in the past been neglected in favour of actual mainstream electric car technology. Thankfully, in recent times this has changed, and while governments around the world are investing heavily in recharging networks, we may be approaching the end of free charging for electric vehicles.
Is this a major blow?
Sceptics of the industry, and there are many, will suggest that charging for the use of electric car charging stations will make EVs more expensive but this is a flawed arguement in reality. On the surface it may look as though this argument is acceptable but if you dig a little deeper the cost comparison between the electric car charging and traditional gasoline/diesel are still heavily skewed in favour of electric cars. So while the negative press regarding the potential ending of free charging across the globe may surprise many, this is not necessarily a problem going forward.
Chicken and the egg scenario
If we take a step back and look at the development of the electric car industry, there was always a need to invest heavily in recharging networks to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles. At the end of the day, and many governments helped with the finance, why would you buy an electric vehicle if there was nowhere to charge it?
So, we are now coming towards the end of the free charging scenario in many countries with UK based Ecotricity the first to break ranks and announce plans to charge for EV charging stations. Up until now, the stations have been free of charge although building up a network of nearly 300 chargers (with 276 of the rapid charger variety) is not cheap nor is the maintenance of the network.
What level of charges can we expect?
Ecotricity has announced plans to charge 5 pounds per 20 minute rapid charging which for many electric cars in the UK equates to 80% battery capacity. This compares extremely favourably to the cost of petrol which is something which the industry will need to get across to sceptical motorists. When you also take into account the fact that 96% of British motorway service stations already have an Ecotricity recharging service, it is fair to say that the company has invested significantly in the industry. Indeed the company calculates that in the five-year history of the network it has provided £2.5 million worth of free travel across the UK!
Now that one of the major providers in the UK has broken ranks we will likely see others follow suit to maintain the status quo and the competitive edge going forward. It is also worth noting at this point that there are many recharging stations in the US where payment is required so this is not necessarily a new thing. It may be relatively new in Europe, but the myth of free electric car charging across the world is slowly clearing.
Advertising could keep costs down
Some businesses across the globe have been working in tandem with electric car charging companies to incorporate an array of advertising with their stations. This will help in keeping costs as low as possible and could also act as a very interesting way of promoting local services and local businesses. At this moment in time the number of electric cars on the road is probably insufficient to support this particular strategy but in the future, there is no doubt it will come into play. At the end of the day, whether you pay full price for your recharging slot, or this is subsidised by advertising income, the cost will always compare extremely favourably to more traditional fuels.