What if we build it and nobody comes?
While in London over the winter, I was struck by newspaper reports regarding the cost and lack of interest in electric car charging stations in the UK. The revelations apparently started on a BBC Bristol website. According to BBC’s research, the vast majority of electric car charging points in Bristol remained unused despite costing more than £100,000 (more than US $165,000) to install. Worse still, the BBC stated that just 14 people were registered to use the points, and just 551 hours of charging had taken place since the charging stations were installed. That’s a lot of tax payer money used to support the desire of 14 people to be carbon-neutral.
London statistics for electric vehicle charging points are more absurd. In London, of the 1,992 charging points available, merely 349 of the points were used – at a taxpayer cost of £8.3 million (about US $1.4 million). Apparently three quarters of London’s charge points have not been used – ever.
Partial data from the 8,600 publicly-funded charging points across the UK for the 16,546 electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles registered suggests plenty of places to charge the few electric vehicles in the country. Which makes me wonder – why is that? Why is no-one buying these electric cars?
US car manufacturer Tesla – which is producing some fine-looking, high quality autos – can’t build their electric vehicles nearly as fast as they can be sold, and their investment in battery technology is well documented. The electric vehicles that I saw available in the UK, and the few I have seen here in the US, certainly don’t have the Tesla style; but they don’t have the Tesla price tag either.
Let’s hope American ingenuity can meld style and engineering in a way that allows for both style, and environmental-friendly transportation. Otherwise, charging points in the US and abroad will become an historical oddity, rather than a sensible taxpayer-funded initiative.
About the Author
Gerald L. Kirkpatrick, P.G. is a Principal Geoscientist and the Managing Partner of Environmental Standards, Inc. Mr. Kirkpatrick has more than 30 years of applied environmental geoscience experience in both private industry and environmental consulting. Outside of work, Gerry enjoys fishing and an occasional single malt. A very poor chess player, he remains dedicated to the game, nonetheless.