European and U.S. cities planning to phase out combustion engines over the next 15. For this, they need to plug a charging gap for millions of residents who park their cars on the street. For while electric vehicle (EVs) sales are soaring in Europe and the United States, a lag in installing charging infrastructure is causing a roadblock. Cash-strapped local authorities have other priorities than a kerbside network of charging points.
This leaves a potential gap for the private sector. Hugh Mackenzie, chief operating officer at Trojan Energy, said that it is really difficult to tackle on-street residential charging, so there’s really not many companies that have. Trojan has developed a charger, where EV owners insert a short pole into sockets sunk into the pavement and then plug in their car. Tim Win, an Uber driver who charges his Nissan Leaf every day, is using the system in Brent, north London.
Like the roll out of fibre optic cable for ultra-fast broadband, urban on-street charging using solutions which include lamp post chargers or even wireless. Solutions like Trojan’s are expensive because they require grid connections. Trojan’s chargers cost around 7,000 pounds ($9,520) to make and install. But it still requires local authority buy-in. Travis Allan, vice president for public affairs at Quebec City-based FLO said that the biggest factor in whether kerbside charging is successful is whether they have an interested and engaged municipality.
Tim Martin, Brent council’s transportation planning manager, says lamp post chargers cost around 2,000 pounds and rapid chargers around 15,000 pounds. Martin stated that the prospect of being able to fund them by themselves out of their own budgets is practically zero. Government figures that the total is around 40% for Britain’s 33 million cars. Chief Executive Richard Stobart estimates Britain will need half a million on-street chargers by 2030. Ubitricity, a Royal Dutch Shell business, is the British market leader, with just 4,000 chargers.
Lex Hartman, ubitricity’s CEO, estimates that in densely-populated areas, around 60% of Europe’s car owners will need public charging. Hartman said that if the infrastructure isn’t there then people will hesitate to buy an electric car unless they are forced to. Europe has more than 90 million lamp posts, millions of which can be used for charging, said Hartman. New York state has set a goal for all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks to be zero-emission by 2035.
Blink CEO Michael Farkas said local authorities want charging infrastructure in as many places as possible to encourage people to buy EVs, but companies cannot afford to shoulder the investments until ownership rises. Making charging accessible for the 30% of car owners who lack designated parking in a city where bans on fossil-fuel cars will start in the next few years is a major challenge.