Traditionally I’m a late adopter of new technology, mainly because I grew up deep in the westcountry and therefore have an inbuilt suspicion of shiny things.
However, I was fascinated by the compelling EV argument put forward by Polar, the UK’s first privately funded nationwide EV charging network, which has launched yesterday in London.
The company behind Polar, Chargemaster, has an ambitious vision for the future of EV technology. It plans to install 4000 electric vehicle charging bays in 100 towns and cities by the end of next year. EV users will ‘subscribe’ to use Polar’s network, at a cost that will be less than £25 per month in the beginning.
A couple of aspects of the plan stood out for me. The first was Chargemaster’s idea of an iPhone and iPad app that will tell subscribers where the nearest Polar charging point is and – crucially – whether it is currently in use.
This useful gadget should ease ‘range anxiety’ – the feeling of concern over whether your batteries will run flat before you get chance to recharge – among electric vehicle users.
The second key bit of information concerned plugs; not a subject I’d spent much time pondering, even in my quietest moments.
Polar’s public charge points will initially be designed to accept your everyday three-pin electric plug as well as a Type 2 plug that allows faster charging.
The Type 2 plug does more than connect your electric vehicle to the power supply. It can also feed information back to the Polar network so Chargemaster can monitor usage of individual charge points and tell the smart phone app where available plugs are.
The Polar charge point technology is modular, so if the car manufacturers decide to switch to new charging technology in the future, the plugs can be adapted to suit.
I’d be interested to hear what level of nationwide coverage you think the infrastructure of electric vehicle charging has to reach before it will become a convincing alternative to the tried-and-trusted combustion engine/petrol pump interface.
After all, if estimates are correct there will be 20,000 EVs on our roads by the end of 2013 – so some drivers must already be considering switching on the electric…