Education is missing piece in EV revolution jigsaw
Educating drivers on the benefits of electric vehicles and demystifying their usage could play a vital role on helping encourage EV take-up.
According to Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of charging specialist Connected Kerb, while there are several areas that need to be tackled in the EV revolution, less attention is being paid to education – including for local authorities struggling with their role in deploying on-street charging.
Speaking to Fleet World, Pateman-Jones said: “When we talk about adoption of EVs, we talk about three big things that need to tackled. And while two of them are being looked at and the third one is being left.
“The first one is the vehicles themselves; so the availability, the cost and the performance. All of these are to some extent being dealt with. So as much as it’s a shame that the Government is taking away the subsidy for EVs, the cost of them is still coming down. And the performance and range of them is going up all the time.
“The second one is around the infrastructure itself; there isn’t enough of it, it isn’t reliable enough, it’s often not in the right locations. But we’re trying to address that.
“But the third one that’s being left out is education on electric vehicles. So for professional people, if you tell them they’ll have to pay ULEZ and the Congestion Charge to drive into London, they’ll just make the switch to an EV.
“However, for a lot of people, it’s still a really big decision. They don’t believe EVs are good enough and they’re about two or three years behind in their knowledge of where the EV market actually is.
“So what we always coach government on and local authorities – and actually government about local authorities – is that education is really important. And if you don’t educate properly and get consistent, honest, transparent messages out there, then the market will be led by people who have a vested interest for it to go one way.”
Pateman-Jones said there are a wide range of areas that drivers need further insight on; from how to use charging points to how to use the EVs themselves and their range capabilities.
He added: “It’s really basic things. I remember a year and a half ago, I was at a conference and a lady asked me if she could take her EV out in the rain.
“And yes it’s an hilarious question but she wasn’t an idiot and it was a genuine question.
“It’s not normally quite as extreme as that – but certainly people don’t understand that actually you can get cars where you can easily do 250 miles on a charge. And next year it’ll be 300 miles, and so on. And the fact that you don’t have to buy an EV, you can rent or lease one.”
Equally important for local authorities
The education piece should not just apply to individuals but also local authorities, who are struggling with their role in charge point deployment. Although they have access to funding under the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, Pateman-Jones said many local authorities are struggling with the time and resources to get to grips with what’s required of them. This has been exacerbated by the extra pressures being heaped on them in the pandemic.
He continued: “We’ve been saying that if the Government are serious about this green recovery, they need to spend a lot more time helping local authorities to understand what’s going on.
“Because we’ll go and see them and some are just not in the right head space to deploy the thousands [of charge points] that are needed. Some of them are so cash-strapped that they don’t have the time to spend in those areas. And what they’re often doing is putting people in the roles where it’s not their area of expertise and it’s sort of dumped on them. So you need to help those people to make sure they’re fully up to speed.
“And that’s a really important part because otherwise you’ll get them being led by people who have the most money and can put across a very convincing argument that one solution is better than another. Whereas what’s needed is a jigsaw of solutions.”
One other way that Pateman-Jones has said the Government can adopt a far more proactive approach to charging is by adopting large-scale deployment on its own estate, helping to kickstart the EV revolution.
Connected Kerb has also announced a new project to deliver the electric vehicle charging revolution to out-of-town communities. Said to be the first of its kind, the project will deploy 40 EV chargers installed in poorly served areas across Kent, providing a blueprint for the UK’s local authorities on how to tackle EV inequality.