Despite electric vehicles pre-dating the wide availability of petrol cars, the stigma around them has been hard to shift. Concerns about their limited range haven’t gone away, even as our demand for more environmentally-friendly travel has grown. This has led to something of a catch-22, where the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) hasn’t been high enough to justify a rollout of charging points.
2020 could be the year when all of this changes. As countries around the world begin to face up to the dual threats of climate change and air pollution, electric vehicles present an ideal solution. And where the government has been slow to react, businesses have begun to step into the breach, and provide their own charging points. Joining in with this trend could put you ahead of the competition — attracting customers and doing your bit for the planet.
Believe it or not, the first electric vehicles date back to before the existence of the motorcar. Hungarian engineer (and priest) Ányos Jedlik invented a small electric motor way back in 1828, which he used to power a small model vehicle. A working electric locomotive was produced for the first time in 1837, while electric taxi cabs were a common sight on the streets of London by the end of the 19th century. At one point, 38% of all vehicles in the United States were electric.
There were a few factors which contributed to the decline of the electric car. The first was a familiar-sounding stigma – that electric cars were for women, as they were easier to drive. The killer blow however was the development of the combustion engine, and with it the widening of the road network. With cars no longer limited to short journeys in cities, and petrol widely available, gasoline cars quickly took prominence.
This monopoly was threatened on a few occasions as electric cars became more viable, but was extinguished by the popularity of gas-guzzling SUVs in the 1990s and 2000s. It wasn’t until the past decade and the success of the Nissan Leaf that electric cars made a dent in overall sales. Even now though, with Tesla proving that electric cars can be cool, electric vehicles represent only 1.3% of the new car market.
Thankfully, things seem to be changing – and quickly. The past year has seen both a 125% growth in electric vehicle sales and a major increase in EV charging points. The latter point has largely been driven by businesses, with Volkswagen installing 2,400 charging points at Tesco stores across the country, and Siemens Mobility delivering charging hubs and points across the west of England.
While charging will always be slower than simply filling your tank, stores are a perfect place for vehicle charging points, as a short stopover is all it takes to top up your battery. Some cars are even smart enough to tell you how long you will need to charge to reach your destination, and can find charging points on a map, eliminating the worry of running out. Google Maps have also recently added a filter for EV charging points, making this even simpler.
With more people appreciating the environmental impact of petrol and diesel cars – on both a local and global scale – it seems likely that more people will want to turn to electric vehicles. Improvements in battery technology meanwhile will mean longer drives and faster charging, both at home and on the go. If you doubt that EVs can take over, you only need to look at Norway, where a whopping 49% of all new vehicle sales in 2018 were electric.
Why you should install charging points
Until now, the government has largely been relying on businesses to push EV charging forwards, hence the relatively slow progress. However, there is currently a scheme whereby private businesses can get up to £10,000 to install EV charging points, and where individuals can claim a rebate of £500 for installing one at home. The biggest leap however has been promised by Boris Johnson’s new government, which has pledged £500 million to expand the UK’s fast-charging network.
Whether you capitalise on the current benefits or wait and see what Johnson & co come up with, there are numerous reasons to hop on the EV charging bandwagon. As well as the environmental aspects, increasing levies on high polluting cars – including road tax and London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – are incentivising electric vehicles. And with more electric vehicles, there will be more potential visitors to your charging points.
Being an early adopter will mean that you’re one of the few places in your area where people can stop to refuel. As charging tends to take at least half an hour, this means people will have a ready made excuse to stop into your store or other business, and likely spend some money. This has the potential not just to attract business from people passing through, but also build loyalty with customers who frequently drop by to charge up, and build up a reputation as an environmentally-conscious business.
Of course, if you’re installing charging points, you’ll need the line markings to match. By marking out new bays for electric vehicles only, you’ll help to prevent regular vehicles from parking next to EV charging points, ensuring that your customers are free to refuel.
This is where Hi-Way can help. With several projects already under our belts, Hi-Way Services are the ideal choice for your charging point line markings. For more information about our previous work and to learn more about our line marking services, get in touch with us today.