December 6, 2017

Positive terminals?

There has been much written recently on how autonomous cars may change our lives and landscapes if their use becomes widespread.

Before then, however, the increasing acceptance and adoption of electric cars may introduce rather more prosaic and iterative changes.

just-auto.com recently reported that Shell “is trying to rethink the refuelling station for the electric future”, attempting to work out how to entice drivers of EVs taking longer journeys to stop at one of their facilities for the necessary 30-40 minutes.

As the article rightly points out, “We generally want to get in and out of the gas/petrol station as quickly as we can” and “the petrol station is not exactly a place to want to linger.”

For car occupants who previously spent as little time as possible filling up their car with petrol or diesel, will such a ‘recharging centre’ appeal?

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It may be, of course, that on-street charging options and at-work facilities render ‘non-petrol stations’ unnecessary – or that the take-up of ‘pure’ EVs stalls, with the same effect.

Should such facilities start to appear, it will be interesting to see what form they take, inside and out.

A different EV infrastructure issue has been vexing the UK’s Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which in late November welcomed the UK government’s announcement that it would allocate £400 million to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure – but urged greater focus on the technicians who work on electric cars.

According to Steve Nash, CEO of IMI, “Currently only 1% of all technicians have been trained to work safely on the high-voltage technology, of which almost all of them work exclusively for manufacturers’ franchised dealers… Plus, there is an additional financial burden on those who want to drive electric vehicles – the current scarcity of appropriately trained individuals has already contributed to insurance premiums for EVs being up to 50% higher than for comparable petrol of diesel cars.”

Both areas of debate serve as reminders that the rapid widespread adoption of pure EVs is by no means guaranteed (the UK’s What Car? reports that EVs represent just 1% of searches on its website), and that there is a lot of work to be done to make that possible.

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