As more people invest in electric cars or hybrids, so the need for charging stations becomes ever greater. While some electric cars can happily go 150 miles on a full charge, it is not yet the case that there are charging points in the same way that we have petrol stations today. You know full well that if you are going up a motorway there will be petrol stations every "x" number of miles, and provided you donít make a silly mistake you wonít run out of fuel.
As of December 2017, there were 8,422 petrol stations in the UK, but there are not that many electric charging stations. Certainly, some petrol stations have charging points, but when it can take three hours to charge, it is not the same thing as filling a tank with petrol or diesel, paying the cashier, and driving away in five minutes.
Of course, one thing that you can do with an electric vehicle is install a charging point at home. You certainly canít install your own petrol pump. You can install a charging point, and the government is offering big grants to encourage people to do so. In fact, it is possible to install one for around £100 when you have factored in the OLEV and Energy Saving Trust grants that you can get. When you start to consider the savings that you can make by using electric instead of diesel or petrol it is well worth doing from that point of view.
Take, for instance, the Volkswagen e-Golf. This has a 35.8 kWh battery which, fully charged, can take you about 120 miles. Now take the City of Dundee which is leading the country in the provision of electrical charging points, and charges Ė from November Ė 15p per kWh + 38p. In order to find out the cost of fully charging your battery from fully discharged, you take the size of the battery and multiply it by the pence per kWh being charged by the supplier. So in this case it would cost you £5.75 to fully charge the battery, and you can go 120 miles. Compared with the cost of petrol and diesel, itís a no-brainer.
Over the life of your car, assuming you change it every three years, you would save a small fortune, or if you do a lot of mileage a big fortune.
Of course, if you charge your car at home, the rate that you will pay is whatever you pay for your electricity normally. So it could be a bit more or a bit less than Dundee is charging for a top up. Another factor is if you have solar panels installed on your home and use solar power. Apart from the cost of the solar panels, your electricity is costing you nothing at all, and you may even get some benefit from adding power to the grid.
Indeed, in Dundee they are well ahead of other cities in the UK and have just opened a solar power charging station on top of a multi-storey car park. The City is not keen on doing what other councils are doing and that is beginning to install charging points on lamp posts. As they say, when you run a cable down the gutter and up to your car there is a trip hazard. There may also be issues for the elderly or disabled, because the cables themselves are quite heavy and you have to get them out of the boot and plug them in. Of course, you still have to do that on the top of the multi-storey car park in Dundee.
Another issue with electric cars is what you do if you live in a flat or terraced house. You canít run your cables across the pavement. However, some new technology may take care of that in the shape of induction pads. This works in the same way that charging a mobile phone with WiFi works. You have an induction pad in the road and another one fitted to the underside of the car. You then park the car over the induction pad, and it charges wirelessly without the need to plug anything in.