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De-bunking the Myth of Charging Infrastructure and EV Adoption - Ep. 3

In this series of articles, I’m anticipating our global adoption of electric vehicles while busting some unfounded and often confusing myths.

In my first article, 'De-bunking the Myth of Consumer Preference in EV Adoption', I outlined how government’s prohibition of the sale of new diesel- and petrol-powered vehicles by 2030 impacts EV adoption far more powerfully than does consumer preference. 

In article two, 'De-bunking the Myth of Price Parity in EV Adoption', I showed how price disparity doesn’t inhibit EV adoption and how enhanced competition will eventually establish a new normal in drivers’ total cost of operations. Now, I’d like to look at the relationship between EV adoption and public charging infrastructure.

Myth – An Underdeveloped EV Charging Infrastructure Inhibits EV Adoption 

Many argue that drivers won’t move to EVs until they see a robust public charging infrastructure in place. However, while the development of chargepoints must correlate with EV adoption, there’s very little evidence indicating which drives which. 

Immediately to the north of London are the adjacent towns of Watford and St. Albans. Watford has a more developed charging infrastructure, with nearly 4 public chargepoints for every 100 EVs. St. Albans features just over 1 per 100 EVs. While the ‘infrastructure incentivises adoption’ argument indicates that Watford should have more EVs, it actually has far fewer, with less than 3 EVs per 100 households, compared with St. Alban’s more than 4.

In contrast, consider the impact of St Albans’ nearly 50% higher household income over their Watford neighbours. My previous article demonstrated how early-stage EV adoption here in the UK has focussed on tax-efficient company cars and salary sacrifice schemes. Participants in these schemes generally demonstrate higher household income and live in neighbourhoods with wider access to off-street parking (63% in St. Albans versus 48% in Watford). 

That the convenient access of St. Albans’ EV drivers to cheaper off-street residential charging mitigates their reliance on public chargepoints makes it no surprise that their less-developed charging infrastructure is no impediment to EV adoption.

The pace of EV adoption and the development of charging infrastructure must be correlated, however there’s no concrete evidence that quicker development of the public charging network moves people towards EVs more quickly. Instead, while government’s 2030 prohibition of new ICE supply drives the adoption of EVs, infrastructure developers and investors must answer fundamental questions as to where demand for EV charging will emerge, when it will emerge and what sorts of infrastructure will be demanded.

Catch up on our Steer New Mobility: Busting Myths - EV Vehicles series...


behaviour change, new mobility, cities & places, climate change, sustainability, myth busting, disruptive technologies, technology & digital, infrastructure