On February 19, the United Kingdom coalition government launched a new package of incentives to encourage the uptake of plug-in electric vehicles. The total value of the funding is up to £37 million ($56 million), depending on how many people take advantage of the offer before it expires in April 2015. Rather than offer more help with purchasing vehicles, the incentives are based on infrastructure spending: The government will provide 75% of the cost to install chargepoints.
Three types of purchasers are named in the announcement, including homeowners for personal chargers, train operators who can now get help to install chargepoints at railway station car parks, and local authorities seeking to install fast chargers and provide on-street charging for residents who do not have private driveways. Public sector fleets such as the police, hospitals, and local government can recover the complete cost of the installation.
Nissan is understandably pleased about this announcement, as the company expects a boost to sales of its European LEAF model, which will soon be built in the United Kingdom with British batteries. Although the £5,000 government subsidy to buy a LEAF helps to make the vehicle more affordable, the cost of the charger spoils the deal for some potential purchasers. This new incentive provides a solution for that as well as more assurance that range anxiety will not be an issue for much longer.
Find a Plug
The availability of charging facilities has been brought up as a reason for poor sales of battery electric vehicles, although it remains something of a chicken-and-egg scenario. In the United Kingdom in January 2012, there were more chargers installed than EVs on the road. Now that fast chargers are being installed, the practicality of using an EV for longer journeys starts to become a reality.
Analysis of actual EV usage, however, has shown that the majority of owners can manage perfectly well by simply plugging in at home every night. This is great for those who live in single-family homes with their own driveway and/or garage, but for those who live in apartments with communal parking it has made EVs impractical. If local authorities take advantage of this offer, it will open up the EV market to a whole new category of customers. Councilors who were elected thanks to promises of caring for the environment will want to make sure this happens.
The other side benefit could be increased demand from motorists who find that an additional advantage to owning an EV is a guaranteed parking space – at home, at work, and at the railway station. Sometimes indirect benefits are more attractive than a simple price reduction.
Tags: Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles, EV Charging, Policy & Regulation, Smart Transportation Practice
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