A most modern breakdown
The average car journey in the UK is 8.4 miles (2020) which, when you think about it, isn’t actually all that far. With the 2030 sales ban of petrol and diesel cars looming in a not-so-distant future, the switch to electric is firmly on. We don’t need to sing their praises, the stats speak for themselves – EVs reduce harmful vehicle emissions by up to 30% when operating with fossil fuel-generated electricity, and by over 70% when using renewable sources. This said, there’s one element overriding the tune and threatening to put the brakes on this green movement.
An Electric Shock
‘Range anxiety’ is a term coined as a result of the stress people experience about their vehicle running out of electricity mid-way through a journey or before they reach their charge-point. Though we’ve all got a friend that boasts about their ability to drive around with the petrol light on, the same can’t yet be said for our EV pals. And it’s probably because it’s all still a bit of a novelty, a new unknown.
The average EV has a range of about 200 miles, so unless you’re planning to drive from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, you’re probably going to be able to get from A to B without a charge hiccup. As with anything new, the more time you spend in an EV, the more comfortable you’re likely to get with understanding your range and charge limits.
What’s more, as of July 2021, the UK has 24,374 available public EV charging devices. 4,551 of these are rapid chargers, usually found at motorway services or locations close to main routes. They can charge some EVs to 80% in just 20 minutes, some serious speed that matches the rapid growth of the UK’s charging infrastructure.
No Juice, No Problem?
So, what does happen if you find yourself out of juice on the hard shoulder of the M1?
The simple solution is to get towed to the nearest charge point to recharge. But towing an EV isn’t actually that simple. EVs are usually automatic and have four-wheel drive, so they damage easily. Nissan strongly recommends against towing because the activity could cause serious damage to the motor; instead, they suggest that their broken down EVs are placed on a truck.
Recovery vans aren’t designed to carry additional batteries for stranded EV drivers either – the couple of hundred kilograms weight of the battery is simply too much. The RAC decided to combine their diesel engines and generators to create electricity to power EVs in a solution they’ve called ‘EV Boost’. The current 3.5kW power delivery only tops batteries up by approx. 14mph, and the jury’s out as to whether this is enough to get you home or to an actual charging point. They’re now working on a 5kW model.
Rival, the AA, developed a ‘freewheeling hub’ earlier this year, which eradicates part of the towing issue. Attaching to the broken-down vehicle, it allows for towing without wheels touching the road or rotating. A new angle on uplifting!
Perhaps the most exciting advancement in EV technology is the possibility for them to charge one another. It’s a concept that’s been on the radar of carmakers and infrastructure providers for a few years now, and in 2019, Hyundai revealed the industry’s first vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) charging option for their Kona Electric. Though the service is only currently offered in a few select cities, it’s a real gear-change in the charging industry. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
The electric revolution of motoring is driving closer, and fast. With fuel costs about 1/3 of the cost of petrol or diesel and September’s introduction of E10 fuel, going electric is getting more appealing, and more accessible. Car manufacturers are constantly working on capacity improvements and the charging infrastructure is growing by the day. The more EVs are integrated into daily life, the less of that range anxiety we’re going to experience. Is it time to plug in? We think so.