Greater standardisation is needed to make EVs more consumer acceptable
Increasingly, as we approach ‘E-Day’ in 2030, a number of pertinent management factors will find themselves under the microscope and Iain Robertson is intent on finding and addressing them to ease the transition; firstly, EV chargers.
Satisfying a broad church is an essential element of greening future mobility. While understandable, from a perspective of retaining originality of design, engineering and manufacturing, purveyors operating in a replacement refuelling infrastructure must adopt a pan-brand standardisation in several areas, in order to make consumer choice less frenetic. To be fair, several electric and electrified vehicle manufacturers have already done so, although others are determined that ‘their route is better’.
The key problem is that there are several types of EV recharging facilities, complicated by different carmaker-related domestic wallboxes, variable speed public charging stations and superchargers. This is complicated by the choice of four modes and four plug types and that is before contemplating recharge times, which fluctuate between three to eight hours (single phase), 20 minutes to three hours (three phase), or 10 to 30 minutes (Direct Current), dependent on voltage and amperage capacities of both charger location and vehicle.
None of this is helped by an almost whimsical payment system, which can range from manufacturer pre-paid cards (‘free’ mileage), to dedicated subscription charge cards and ‘pay-as-you-go’ mobile-phone apps. The ability to pay using a contactless bank debit card is rare but ought to be standardised. Yet, justifiable fears continue to arise with access to consumer data, authorised, or not, and that is before even gaining access to a public recharging post, which may, or may not be functioning at all. However, the electricity costs are modest, working out at around £5 for a domestic recharge (up to eight hours, usually overnight), or £7 to £11 using a public charger for around 80 miles worth of charge (an average of 30 minutes). The rates should be standardised and with one-off registration fees you can expect only modest savings overall, when compared with conventional fossil fuels.
Today’s business and private motorists have more than enough issues to resolve, without having to worry about refuelling. It is for this reason that operators of plug-in hybrid petrol/diesel-electric cars are known to avoid charging facilities, not merely because they can. Most vehicle manufacturers are so brand-centric that an inevitable incentive to early EV adopters has been the notionally ‘free’ supply and fitment of a domestic wallbox. Rest assured, nothing in this life is ever ‘free’ and consumers are paying for the equipment within the list price of their chosen EV. The same applies to ‘free electricity’ offers.
Naturally, our government is under intense pressure at present to ‘balance the books’ during a crisis. Various EV grants have been available but their generosity has reduced over time. The inflated list prices of EVs used to be reduced by £5,000 but that rate has come down to £3,500, all without the reduced values anticipated from a slightly greater volume of registered EVs.
Despite the reported attitudes of hybrid users, recharging an electrified vehicle in a domestic driveway occurs around 80% of the time, because even EVs used for a daily commute seldom exceed 30 miles for a return trip to home. However, accepting a carmaker’s generous wallbox installation offer can result in the consumer either being tied to that manufacturer, or being forced into having an alternative brand’s wallbox installed at vehicle changeover time; a most unsatisfactory and potentially expensive situation. The standardisation of wallboxes is long overdue, even though we are hardly scratching the surface at present.
Addressing this issue has been the remit of SYNC EV, a Sussex-based manufacturer of government approved wallboxes but with directors that have been linked intrinsically to renewable energies since 2009. It prides itself on viewing the entire EV business from somewhat different angles and the result is one of the neatest, most compact, reliable, readily upgradable and multi-functional smart wallboxes available, which is ideal for meeting the corporate needs of the near future. It is compatible with ALL EVs, from Audi to Skoda and Tesla to Volvo. Even the problematic recharging of MG EVs has been resolved using SYNC EV.
Employing a SYNC EV approved, nationwide NIC EIC qualified, subcontract workforce, it has earned a hugely positive reputation for the high quality of its installations and its comprehensive three-year warranty support services for all domestic and commercial demands. Despite having the smallest, low impact dimensions of any wallbox, it offers charge current variability, RFID as standard, dynamic load management, smart grid enablement and tried and tested safety. As an OLEV approved installer, the current grant of up to £350 is applied, with full administrative support (retail costs start from £589 plus VAT for a unit including all smart technology but inclusive of fitting and OLEV grant).
Featuring internal earthing, thus requiring no unsettling groundworks, household fuse protection, thus no annoying tripping of the domestic electricity supply, and over-the-air updates, to provide future-proofing protection, the SYNC EV installation is not just weatherproof but also has solar integration as part of its package. A clearly visible LED status ring monitors and notifies of the unit’s activities. If one of the bugbears of operating an EV is the continual boot search for the right cable, a few practical options enable a 5m or 10m cable to be fitted within a convenient wall holster. Yet, it is the also the simplest of devices to install, live with and, if required, rectify.
Although government regulation related to domestic EV chargers is now in place, with which SYNC EV is entirely compliant, it needs to be stated that an early lack of control resulted in a ‘Gold Rush’ for cowboy installers. Cenex was commissioned to provide a nationally audited report for the government, which revealed that only 21.1% of installations were satisfactory, with 69.6% recommended for improvement, 8.7% being potentially dangerous and 0.5% dangerous. SYNC EV has never been less than 100% satisfactory and safe.
Fortunately, market stability is now more evident and, while there remains a lot of misinformation in the EV scene, pricing and safety issues are starting to be managed with greater success. SYNC EV intends that its developments will at least match, while exceeding expectations in a fast-growing sector.
Conclusion: It is important to note that SYNC EV does not employ the restrictive word ‘charger’ in its name, because its overall view is altogether more holistic and future EV innovations form vital aspects of its existence, together with its promise of first-rate customer support. Remember the name, because it is set to become very big.