The government has announced a brand-new bill that could actually force petrol and service stations by law to install charging stations for electric and hybrid vehicles.
There are currently only 4,500 charging stations around the UK, the bill would enable this number to increase drastically along with the implementation of roadside charging points in areas where charging at your home is impossible.
Transport Minister John Haynes said: “This bill will aid the construction of greater infrastructure to support the growing demand for automated and electric vehicles as we embrace this technology and move into the future.”
The bill goes on to state that every new charging point that’s installed will need to be a ‘smart charger’ meaning that it will know the demand that’s being placed on the national grid and adjust in order to maintain equal demand across the country.
A German company Ubitricity has already started rolling out a trial program in London that can actually convert street lamps into charging stations.
While the bill certainly sounds promising, Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation believes that “The test, though, will be how effectively those powers are exercised.”
The bill’s arrival comes just months after the government finally confirmed that it would be banning the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.
While the date set is further away than most other countries, a recent report by Dutch bank ING predicted that by 2035 almost all vehicles sold in Europe will be electric anyway.
In addition to government support, the car industry has already started making commitments to move all its cars over to either electric or hybrid engines.
So while it’s clear that car companies are happy to set ambitious targets, the pressure will not be on the government to make sure that the infrastructure will be ready, potentially even before the 2040 deadline.
The need for a large charging network isn’t just to accomadate the increased number of electric vehicles on the road, it will also be needed because at present electric cars just can’t compete with their combustable counterparts in terms of range.
While car companies like Tesla are offering frankly practical driving ranges (at a premium), the average electric car currently available has a range of around 150+ miles at most.
To help alleviate the concerns around charging times as well, companies like Toyota have said that it is working on a brand-new battery technology that is safer, cheaper and can be charged in just minutes.
Currently a Tesla can be charged to around 80% in just 30mins using the company’s ultra-fast charging solution the Supercharger.
Finally the bill also requires that all owners of self-driving cars will need to be insured and it promises that a system will be put in place that in the event of an accident there will be quick and easy access to compensation.