Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

Written evidence submitted by David G Edwards (AEVB 17)

I write as a member of the public and as a driver for the last three years of a Nissan Leaf electric car. I am also a retired Electrical Engineer.

In my view, Section 10 of the Act now under consideration, by concentrating on ‘Large Fuel Retailers’ and ‘Service Area Operators’ does not meet the requirement that I imagine that this section is intended to meet, namely that electric vehicle drivers should be able to drive the length and breadth of the United Kingdom without fear (perceived or actual) of being unable to recharge their vehicle as required, both en-route and at their destination.

The present lack of facilities for en-route (Rapid) charging is best illustrated by mid-Wales. While there are Rapid charging points on the M4, and on the A55 along the North Wales coast, there are none in between. This means that there are significant areas of Wales to which I am unable to travel (especially for a day trip) using my electric car without incurring significant inconvenience either by having to divert from the direct route, or by incurring a significant time penalty by having to use for en-route charging points intended for (slower) destination charging.

What I would like Section 10 of the Act now under consideration to do is to require the Secretary of State to have drawn up a list of locations where it is desirable in the national interest to have public charging points installed, and to specify for each of those locations the minimum requirements for the charging points and other facilities to be installed at that location.

For each location, interested users should then be invited to apply to install the required points, and grants should be made available (if needed) to cover the installation and ongoing maintenance costs (including if needed, the costs of reinforcing the electricity distribution network to cope with the expected demand placed upon it by the charging points).

At many of the desirable locations, fuel retailers and service area operators already have facilities, and should therefore be invited to apply, but this should not exclude other interested parties who may have suitable premises in that location.

If no interested users come forward to install and operate the required public charging points at a particular location, then the Secretary of State should be required, on his own account, to install and operate the public charging points at that location.

In my view, the maximum spacing between Rapid (en-route) Public Charging locations should not exceed 20 miles on general purpose roads and 40 miles on motorways. My reasoning for suggesting these maximum spacings is given in Notes 1 and 2 of the appended notes.


1. For my Nissan Leaf (one of the early ones made in 2013 by Nissan at its Sunderland factory), my practical maximum range from a full charge is 80 miles in summer and 60 miles in winter – the lower winter range is because of the effect of lower temperatures on the battery and transmission, added to higher tyre rolling resistance in wet weather and the need to use energy for heating the interior of the car etc.

2. For reasons of battery chemistry, the maximum charging rate allowed by the Battery Management System reduces as the battery becomes charged, and once 80% charge is reached it is usually better to disconnect and proceed towards the next public charging location. Also, once the battery gets down to 20% charge low battery warnings appear, and if I am in an unfamiliar locality I (and my passengers) would consider obtaining a further charge a high priority (some electric vehicle users start to get worried when they get down to 30% charge). This means that for me the maximum comfortable distance in bad winter weather between needing to Rapid charge can be as low as 36 miles (60% of 60 miles), especially at motorway speeds.

If I am travelling to a destination part way between two public Rapid charging points, and my destination does not have any destination charging points (or my time at my destination is so short that I would not be able to take on board any meaningful amount of charge while at the destination), then on my return journey I would want to be able to proceed directly to the last Rapid charging point I passed on my outward journey to obtain a charge rather than having to continue further in my outward direction in order to obtain a charge. For this reason I am suggesting a maximum of 20 miles between public Rapid Charging Points. This also is the pure electric range of many of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV’s) currently on the road.

3. The number and capacity of the recharging points available at any location should ideally be more than sufficient to meet the demands of the traffic passing that point, and should take into account the distance they have travelled since they last recharged. For instance, if 100 electric vehicles per hour pass a location, and they have each travelled 20 miles since they last recharged, then there is a potential demand at that location for 2000 vehicle-miles worth of recharging each hour. At a typical value of 0.3kWh per vehicle mile for a private car, this implies a recharging demand of 600kWh per hour, or 600kW, at that location. [The above figures have been chosen for illustration only, in practice more accurate traffic data should be available, and any calculation should take into account the proportion (and the desired increase in the proportion) of vehicles on the road that are electrically powered].

Few electric vehicles will stop at every Public charging location, many will have the battery capacity to carry forward their recharging demand to a later Public charging location, or to their home/work/destination charging point. (75-85% of my charging is done at home overnight on the cheap rate).

At some locations the existing electrical supply infrastructure may be insufficient to meet the demand calculated above. Providing that these locations have the capacity to meet the needs of those who must charge at that location (and that the locations are advertised as having a restricted capability), use can be made of the ability of many electric vehicles to carry forward their potential recharging demand to a later recharging location, but that following location (and the preceding location) must then be capable of dealing with extra demand.

4. Reliability of Public Charging Points is important – there is nothing worse than turning up at a charging point with an almost flat battery and finding that I am unable to obtain a charge for any reason. No single failure (with the exception of the total failure of the electricity supply to the location) should render all the charging points at a location unusable, and the specification for the charging points to be installed at a Public Charging location should include a target time for the repair or replacement of any points which develop a fault.

[The current time to repair Rapid charging points can be unacceptably slow – for example the single post at Bangor Services in North Wales (at the junction of the A55 and the A5) was damaged by a passing truck in mid September, and has only just been replaced, making this location unavailable for any charging for almost two months!! – Unfortunately such delays in repairing a faulty charging point are all too common.]

5. As Rapid charging can typically take about half an hour, the provision of other facilities such as toilets and refreshments can be useful. The availability or otherwise of such facilities should be taken into account when deciding between two or more offers to install Public Charging Points at any particular location.

6. The price to be charged for recharging should encourage the use of home (or on-street residential parking) and workplace or destination charging over Rapid (en-route) charging as the capital cost per kW of charging capability is significantly less for home/workplace/ destination chargers than it is for the higher powered Rapid (en-route) chargers.

Ideally, the choice of charging for a particular journey should be in the following order (cheapest first), and the prices charged should reflect this:

Charging overnight at home (or at a residential on-street charging point)

Charging during daytime at home or at a workplace or destination charging point.

Charging at an en-route Rapid charging point.

Using an equivalent petrol powered vehicle for the journey

November 2017


Prepared 15th November 2017