Electric vehicles as part of the pollution solution

Nina from One Lewisham talks about her EV dreams, how far away the reality is, and how Lewisham Council need to address home charging to help drive adoption.

I recently bought an Electric car…

I had been thinking about it for a while weighing up all the pros and cons financially etc. My petrol car was getting old and would start to need money spent on it so I thought that when that happened I would make sure my next car was an electric car.

I made the change earlier than I had planned. One day I found myself accidentally part of the rush hour (this was before the LTN)… I watched a young woman with her baby in her front garden on the South Circular tidying up her garden. I felt awful contributing to the fumes her child was breathing in. That did it – I bought a second hand electric car.

The car itself is great. Lovely to drive, quiet, I am no longer contributing to exhaust emissions, no VED, cheaper residents parking permit, no congestion charge etc.

Plus cheaper to ‘fuel’ right? And really easy! Just plug in and off you go etc.

Not so.

I have discovered that charging en route is not much of a problem. There are plentiful rapid chargers available and more are coming online all the time. This is fantastic.

Charging at home however is a big problem if you do not have off street parking. I do not have off street parking.

Currently all home charging solutions are aimed at those people who do have off street parking. As we all know homes with driveways carry a premium in London and therefore are generally owned by those in a higher income bracket. They are then also able to take advantage of OLEV grants towards the cost of home charging connectors and low cost overnight electric tariffs with which to charge their car.

If you do not have a driveway your choices in Lewisham are very very limited.

Currently the nearest option I have are the Source London chargers in Kellerton Road. Great, I thought, problem solved. However there are issues with this. Source London charge not by the Kwh but by the minute. Not by the number of minutes you are actually drawing a charge from their unit, but by the number of minutes the cable is physically attached to the unit. This is very expensive.

Just go on to any EV social media forum and mention Source London and you will get the general idea of what ev owners think of this company. Also one has to ‘sign up’ pay a fee (a one off or monthly) , this means giving all sorts of personal details to the company.

Most electric car charging companies do this – download an app (so far I have had to download 5 apps), put in personal details, put in payment details etc. You do not have to do this when you fuel a car with petrol. You put the fuel in, pay and go.

I understand that Ubitricity are now rolling out lamp post and bollard chargers across Lewisham. They are a much better company in my view. The lamp post and bollard chargers are less of an intrusion visually on the street. One issue in quite a few roads in Lewisham is that the lamp posts are on the house edge of the pavement and not the kerb edge, I don’t know if this causes an issue as to where the charging point can realistically be placed on those streets. My street is one such street.

But even with Ubitricity it still costs more to charge from a charging post than at home. Ubitricity are approximately 24 pence per kWh, my home electricity supply would be approx 13 pence per kWh.

What I want to do, and what most EV owners will want to do is charge at home. Home charging can be done with a regular 3 pin plug and no extra cost needed to have a charging point installed. From a consumer point of view the attraction of EV’s is their low running and low ‘fuelling’ costs. This attraction is needed as currently they are more expensive to buy than petrol/diesel fuelled vehicles.

As things are in Lewisham those living in homes with no driveway (those often in a lower income) bracket are having to pay the most!

Oxford Council were involved in a trial of various ways to charge electric cars and came up an innovative idea when it came to home charging.
https://www.tsu.ox.ac.uk/pubs/2019-GULO-Phase-1-Final-Report.pdf

These photos show various options of pavement channel. The cables are not permanently left in the channel – only when charging the vehicle. Personally this looks to me like the cheapest safe option to allow people to charge their cars at home.

Hampshire county council also advise their residents on how to charge their car at home safely. https://www.hants.gov.uk/transport/ev-charging-points/ev-charging-guidance

My very strong suspicion is that without a council approved solution to home charging, the resourceful people of Lewisham will come up with solutions themselves. These will no doubt vary in attention to detail where safety is concerned. It would also tempt people to pave over their front gardens to create a ‘driveway’ with or without a dropped kerb. As we know, for many reasons, this is not desirable.

If we really want to encourage an uptake of electric vehicles they have to be more convenient than petrol vehicles, not less.

I’d be keen to discuss EV charging solutions with Lewisham Council to see how we could make better value options available to all.

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