Electric vehicles are the future. Or so we’re told. But they can’t go anywhere without power and if there’s not enough charging units around the country then they won’t have one. A future that is. But maybe things are about to change (or brighten up we should say).
The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling recently announced plans that could, if they are implemented, see the UK “become the best country in the world in which to develop and manufacture zero-emission vehicles”. These plans include installing hundreds of thousands of charging points including incorporating them into new street lighting columns. We’re not sure what the nation’s dogs will make of this but assume they will have to adapt their toilet habits.
The government is also considering whether new homes and offices should be required to install charging points. This would be a distinctly modern version of popping round to your neighbours to borrow some sugar. In this case, ‘borrowing’ their electricity.
That’s the carrot part of the Government’s strategy. The stick part is to simply ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans – as from 2040. Some of the nation’s drivers aren’t waiting that long. Hybrids and electric vehicles already made up 5.5% of the UK’s new car market in the first six months of this year, compared with 4.2% during the same period in 2017.
But it’s the lack of charging units that is holding the rest of us back. Two separate studies, one conducted by the AA and one by the RAC came up with much the same answer. The study for the RAC Foundation ‘found growth in electric car use could be stalled by limitations in the public charging network’. Whilst the AA research showed ‘eight out of 10 drivers see the lack of charging points as a stumbling block to them buying an electric vehicle’.
Perhaps Chris Grayling is taking his inspiration from the 1989 film, ‘Field of Dreams’? In that film, an Iowa corn farmer (played by Kevin Costner) hears a voice telling him: “If you build it, he will come.” He interprets this as an instruction to build a baseball diamond in his fields. We’d prefer some charging points.