With the introduction of electric and hybrid cars, the automotive industry is undergoing a transformation. Concerns such as extreme air pollution and over usage of petrol and gas are being tackled using increasingly advanced technologies.
The Autumn Statement 2016 also promises government support for drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles. They’ve pledged to invest £390 million in the installation of new electric-vehicle charging points, fully deductible from company profits.
However, for some drivers, the thought of electric cars is still a strange one, and the biggest concern is where to charge an electric vehicle. However, in Scotland, the use of charging points for electric vehicles has doubled since last year.
You can either purchase a home wall box or use a public charging station. Almost all electric vehicles have a Type 2 Mennekes plug, which has seven pins. However, some models have a Type 1 plug with five pins, so it’s important to double check which one your car has before you buy a charging station.
Different EV charging stations have different plugs and there is not an adapter that fits all. Stations used for commercial or home use differ in their design, speed and manufacturing so consider exactly what you need when you purchase one.
The charging point is a dedicated place where you can charge your electric vehicles. There are four main types of charges – slow (up to 3kW), which charge the car for 6-8 hours; fast (7-22kW), which take 3-4 hours; Rapid AC and Rapid DC (43-50kW), which take about half an hour. Generally, the speed of charge will depend on how much the vehicle can handle. According to Zap Map, in the UK there are about 2162 rapid connectors. When they’re all counted together, Britain has a total of 11873 connectors in 4235 locations.
A slow charger is the most basic one and as it takes quite a bit of time, it’s usually recommended that you charge the car overnight. It’s not the best option if you need a quick top-up on the motorway; however, it works well in your house.
The fast charger operates at up to 7kW and can charge your vehicle in 3–4 hours on average. The connectors vary, but they are generally Type 2. The rapid charger is best suited for cars such as the Tesla S and Kia Soul EV, which utilise advanced battery technologies and can handle the speed of the charge. However, unless you are driving a Tesla, you won’t be able to use the Tesla Supercharger Stations, as the plug is manufacturer-specific.
Charging points are usually found at motorway service stations, or located in cities. For extra safety, you are advised to double check (or cross check with other websites) to make sure you’ve got up-to-date information regarding charging point locations. It’s worth finding out what kind of chargers are out there, too, Ecotricity is a rapid charging point, which will charge you £6 for a half hour charge - usually enough for a smaller car, like a Nissan Leaf.