It's A Charging Network But Not As We Need It

I heard some great news today… Ecotricity and Welcome Break are collaborating to put EV charging points at Welcome Break motorway service areas throughout Britain. I got all excited because if this were true then it would mark a real step forward in the usefulness of EVs and might give a boost to EV take up.

The article was in the Sunday Times so I hunted out the article. I should not have got so excited.

Firstly the report indicated that the charge points would be for two cars at each station; one with a 32A 7-pin (I assume Mennekes) socket and one with 13A socket. Neither of which are at all useful by my Nissan Leaf. Sure, I can use the 13A socket but I then charge at 10A through my Nissan supplied cable so it will require an overnight stop for each charge… not very practical overnight stopping after every 80 miles!

I am now in the position where I want to applaud Ecotricity and Welcome Break for their initiative but I cannot. They will be installing a network of charging points that the currently available EVs cannot use for long journeys. Is this progress? Not for me and probably not even for the future as a lot of EVs over the next few years will need CHAdeMO DC fast chargers. I accept that there is no current standard and CHAdeMO is expensive but I fail to see the benefit in installing charge points that will almost never be used for years to come and that is what they are doing.

What a mess. When are the manufacturers going to standardise so we can all get on with installing infrastructure that will actually be beneficial to EV drivers… this proposed network might be useful in many years time when there are a significant percentage of cars with 32A 3-phase charging. Currently there are none that has that capability yet they are building an infrastructure for it already. I am at a loss to the business case for that.

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