Gareth Huw Davies

Environment Blog / Green Technology

How easy will it be to charge an electric car?

Electric car charging points, UCL, Bloomsbury London. Picture -- Gareth Huw Davies

The first fax machine, and the introduction of unleaded petrol came at about the same time, in the late 1980s.
I’m reminded of how how hard it was to find both of these things, as we await the arrival of the first mainstream electric cars (EVs), scheduled for 2011.

The first generation EVs will have a range of about 100 miles, ample for pottering about in your locality but clearly not enough if you make a trip of more than 40 miles in one direction and hope to get back home. Public charging points will be the EV driver’s salvation. But there aren’t too many around, yet, and where will you find them?

This is where that memory of the fax, and unleaded petrol comes in. Early adopters really struggled. They were both hard to find.
When I wanted to send an article to a publication in Paris, the nearest ones to my home were in the main post offices in central London and in Bedford, both about 30 miles away. (Incidentally, how short lived was that particular piece of technology.)  It was the same with unleaded petrol. I remember an increasingly desperate hunt on the service stations of the A1 near Newcastle, before I finally found a pump that served the new fuel.

Will it be the same with public charging points for EVs? Ccrucially, they have been available since well before the product they’re going to serve — for example in the main city centre shopping centre in Leicester, and the big complex in West London. They are already easier to find than those first faxes. And technology will help the EV driver find them. Somebody must be working on the iPhone app at this very moment. There’s already a very good website,, with a searchable map showing the location of charge points.

EV-network, which presently covers the UK, says it has built the database to encourage “the wider adoption of electric vehicles which provide zero pollution at the point of use and thus improve town and city centre environments.  Even when emissions from power stations are considered, then electric vehicles are normally responsible for significantly lower CO2 emissions than their conventional equivalents which helps to address global warming.”

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