The enormous advancement in public charging over the years hasn’t changed the fact that drivers who can’t charge at home are over five times less likely to switch to electric vehicles. According to Joel Teague, CEO of the electric car charger sharing app Co Charger, there is a fundamental issue with the way we think about EV charging, and we need to fix it.

Over the past four years, the EV landscape has seen a significant transformation. There were 97,565 electric vehicles on the road in 2019. There were 784,968 as of May 2023 (SMMT May 2023). There are now fewer public charging stations. There were 16,971 in 2019; by May 2023, there were 43,626 (Zapmap).

But one figure has remained consistent throughout: according to a Zapmap survey, 84% of EV owners charged at home in 2019 and they will still be doing so in 2023. Even if the number of EV sales is rising and public charging stations are becoming more accessible and reliable, nearly the same percentage of EV sales go to drivers who have access to home charging, while those who do not are still five times more likely to continue purchasing fossil fuel vehicles.

According to estimates, about half of UK drivers cannot use home charging because they reside in apartments, terraced homes, or rented housing. They do not consider public charging to be a practical substitute for charging at home, as evidenced by the fact that they have remained a small minority of EV customers despite the enormous advancements in public charging. This seems understandable given the enormous benefits provided by home charging in terms of convenience, price, and dependability.

According to Joel Teague, the government and the electric vehicle (EV) industry have made the assumption that “build it, and they will come.” For many years, the idea that if enough public charging stations are installed, people without driveways will purchase electric vehicles has been prominent in research, presentations, plans, and projects. However, the emphasis on public charging infrastructure has the unintended consequence of alienating those without driveways. They keep hearing that they should switch because to the rise in public charging stations. However, most people don’t want to waste time looking for a nearby, functional public charger and then hanging about for an hour or two while the car charges to avoid a fine for overstaying their welcome. Furthermore, if customers must pay much higher public charging fees, they will not be able to offset the additional cost of the automobile.

“If we are to succeed in decarbonizing road transport, we must accept that data and rethink the overall situation, as it is obvious that the current course of action is only benefiting half the population.” We must emphasize the vast array of options available to non-driveway owners and ensure them that an EV is a viable option for them. Before switching to electric vehicles, drivers must have faith in their ability to get a base level of charging that is reliable, economical, and convenient. When they truly own the EV, only then will public charging be useful to them for longer trips.

For drivers without driveways, a variety of “alternative base charging” options are available, including:

1. In-office billing

2. Home-connected on-street charging: Gullys, gantries, or even buried cables with plug-in adapters are used to transport electricity from private sources to parking lots along the road.

3. Mobile EV charging services—mobile businesses that provide power to parked cars

4. Public chargers placed on lampposts and curbsides that are intended for use by those living nearby

5. Charging hubs, specially constructed off-street chargers reserved for locals close to their homes

6. Community Charging, in which owners of private chargers make them bookable, pay-per-use available to local people as their “home” charger. The UK’s sole Community Charging platform is called Co Charger.

Joel Teague is organizing a group of businesses to assist drivers who lack driveways in making the switch to electricity. Recognizing and comprehending this issue from the perspective of the motorist is the most critical duty. Then, we must incorporate it into every discussion, document, strategy, and initiative to ensure that we are actually providing every driver with the tools they need to transition away from fossil fuels. Everyone benefits from it, not just public charging firms. Giving more people the resources they require to purchase EVs results in more people using public charging stations while they are away from home.

“While this may require a significant change in how we approach, organize, and carry out the EV transition, it’s good news for everyone if we acknowledge the scope and nature of the issue and use our new knowledge to quicken the process.” To accomplish that, I’m looking forward to collaborating with partners from the business community and the government.

Since an essay titled “The EV Charging Blind Spot” was posted on LinkedIn earlier this month, numerous well-known figures in the EV and sustainability industries have come forward to support this shift in strategy, and momentum is growing to better serve the sector.