Kenny Scouller, Head of EVCI Sales for Yunex Traffic in the UK, considers some of the issues facing those who own and operate the UK’s EV charging infrastructure.
In 2022, sales of Electric Vehicles (EVs) reached a significant milestone, with total EV sales for the full year second only to petrol powered cars, overtaking annual sales of diesel cars for the first time.
If ever there were lingering doubts about electric power being the most appropriate solution, with research and development into potential alternative technologies continuing, then these latest sales figures surely put that debate to bed.
If as an industry we are to achieve the UK Government’s ambitious decarbonisation and air quality targets, then manufacturers, owners, ChargePoint Operators and authorities must all continue to work closely together to deliver not only the most appropriate vehicles and batteries that are needed, but also the evolution, manufacture and installation of the required charging infrastructure network.
The issues of ‘range anxiety’ and ‘infrastructure availability anxiety’ are still the two most significant barriers to drivers switching from fossil fuel to electric power, and so addressing these is critical if we are to successfully convince more and more drivers to make the change. A great deal of work has already been done in expanding the rapid and ultra-rapid charging infrastructure network, particularly on the motorway and strategic road network and in the commissioning of dedicated EV charge point hubs, but it’s clear that we need to relentlessly drive this programme further and wider over the next decade.
However, deploying EV charge points in sufficient numbers isn’t enough in itself to support EV adoption. It is equally important to make sure that the infrastructure is reliable and available when needed. The UK Government set an ambitious target of 99% for charger availability and achieving this will be just as important as installing enough chargers to meet driver demand. This is so critical that infrastructure owners and operators are focussing just as much on cost-effectively optimising the equipment they have already invested in, as they are on the continued roll out of new chargers.
To meet their needs and to reach the 99% availability target, we must make sure that the right number of people with the right skills are in the right place to provide installation and maintenance services, both now to establish confidence in the network, and into the future to sustain and repay that confidence.
At Yunex Traffic, we continue to invest heavily in our service teams, with over 250 highly trained service engineers working from 14 offices across the UK, all of whom are backed by our in-house Service Operations Centre. Staffed round the clock by an experienced team, the centre provides a range of services to customers, including incident management and remote monitoring, which ensures that any issues are quickly identified and resolved either remotely, or via dispatch of an engineer to site. Customers also have access to an online portal, where they can raise and track faults, view service reports and monitor the overall status of their charging network.
The teams have provided a high-quality service to the EV sector for over 10 years and currently maintain over 2,000 chargers in cities across the UK – a figure which is growing rapidly as the UK’s charge point network expands. The service team works closely with Charge Point Operators, manufacturers and local authorities at a range of charge points, including Shell petrol station forecourts and in cities such as London, Bristol and Coventry, as well as dedicated EV charge point hubs in Woolwich and Portishead.
Clearly the provision of chargers is crucial to the growth of the UK’s EV fleet and the achievement of the Government’s goals, but we also recognise that reliability and availability of the chargers is equally important to build driver confidence and sustain the growth of vehicle sales.