Could simply making electric vehicle (EV) charge points available at work provide a major boost to the fledgling market for electric cars and plug-in hybrids?
That is the contention of National Grid and charge point provider eVolt following a pilot project that revealed a significant increase in staff use of plug-in vehicles following the introduction of workplace charging infrastructure.
The grid operator installed six charge points at its Warwick-based operational HQ last April and a year on the company has seen a 334 per cent uplift in the use of the charge points. The company also said the number of plug-in hybrids in the company fleet has nearly doubled since the chargers were installed.
“Since the eVolt charging infrastructure was installed, the number of company car PHEVs has risen from 177 to 375, and we have seen an increase in the number of fully electric vehicles,” said Darren Watson, environmental operations advisor for National Grid’s Sustainability and Climate Change team. “The chargers’ take up has been rapid and exponential, and we are forecasting further rises as the business continues to support the adoption of EVs, and our employees continue to select them as a credible alternative to traditional petrol or diesel engines.”
Richard Lloyd, risk and compliance manager at National Grid, said the company was exploring a wider roll out of charge points at other offices.
“[We] have no reason to doubt installation at further sites would be a success,” he said. “We are working collectively with eVolt to develop a strategy in realising this aim while continuing to increase use of the charge points at National Grid House. The more remote sites with fewer employees have individual challenges, and EV charging services must be provided in a sustainable way, so collaborating to find the best solutions is key.”
Studies have suggested charge points at home and work are likely to prove most popular with EV owners, as people rarely travel far enough in a single day to require additional charging.
Justin Meyer, general manager of eVolt UK, said there was a compelling case for focusing more EV charging infrastructure at workplaces. “The figures show what we consistently see after a business installs charge points; the considerable increase in their use alongside the increasing take up of EVs being used by employees,” he said. “One of the key factors holding back EV sales is drivers’ worry that they will run out of battery power – what the industry calls range anxiety. But with charge points installed at working locations, drivers have convenient charging that fits with their normal driving routine.”
The installation at National Grid’s HQ saw six charge points deployed across 12 parking bays with each unit capable of charging two EVs simultaneously in around three to four hours.
The news came on the same day as the London Taxi Company officially cut the ribbon on its new dedicated £300m electric vehicle factory in Coventry, which is expected to deliver plug-in hybrid taxis from later this year.
The company also announced it is to produce a range extended EV light commercial van targeting the delivery, distribution, and maintenance sectors.