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Revealed: Britain’s best EV charging networks 2019

Tesla named best charging network 2019

Tesla “continues to set the gold-standard for EV charging experience”, according to a new study.

A satisfaction survey of more than 1,600 electric car drivers ranks Tesla as the UK’s number one charging network. The Supercharger network scored an impressive 94 out of 100.

More than 86 percent of Tesla drivers said they are ‘very satisfied’ with the charging network, with a further 10 percent claiming they are ‘somewhat satisfied’.

Tesla might find it hard to stay on top. A larger range of cars and increased sales will put pressure on the Supercharger network, while a loss of free charging for some owners could see a decline in satisfaction.

Indeed, Tesla’s satisfaction score, while impressive, is down 6 percent on this time last year.

Zap-Map, the organisation behind the study, asked charging network users to rank four key issues related to public chargers. 

Unsurprisingly, reliability is the most important factor, followed by speed of charging, cost and facilities at the charging network.

‘EV drivers are increasingly savvy’

Chargepoint network in Camelford Cornwall

Dr Ben Lane, CTO and joint MD at Zap-Map, said: “EV drivers are very clear as to what makes for a good charging experience with ‘reliability’ being the number one priority. EV users need to be able to access the whole of the UK network with confidence that the installed chargers will be working and available as advertised.

“EV drivers are increasingly savvy about the different levels of service offered by each of the UK’s charging networks and will change their driving routes to use those which offer the best service.

“This suggests that the market is becoming highly competitive, with EV users happy to pay for quality, but avoiding networks which fail to provide a good charging experience.”

Top 10 charging networks in the UK

PositionCharging networkScore (out of 100)
1.Tesla Supercharger94
2.InstaVolt86
3. Pod Point79
4.NewMotion77
5.Polar (BP Chargemaster)73
5.Shell Recharge73
7.ChargePlace Scotland72
8.Engenie70
8.GMEV (Greater Manchester)70
10.GeniePoint69

Click here for our guide to electric chargers.

Understanding Kia’s electric car range is child’s play

Kia electric car campaign

Kia has teamed up with Sky Media to raise awareness of its growing range of electric cars.

Using an ‘out of the mouths of babes’ approach to marketing, Kia is using an all-child cast to explore the benefits of electric car ownership. It’s like the Vauxhall ‘Little Dads’ campaign, rebooted for a new generation.

The Korean brand hopes that the six-week campaign will appeal to families, while answering some of the EV questions adults are too afraid to ask. Well, it’s often the child who helps the parents with the set-up of household electronic devices…

‘Electric credentials’

Kia Soul EV

“Sky Media will be the perfect partner for our brand,” said Jane Fenn, head of brand communications at Kia.

“Being able to amplify our wide range of electric and alternative fuelled models across such a broad scale of media will ensure that our electric credentials are seen by a wide range of consumers that are a sure fit within our target demographic.”

Kia offers all-electric, plug-in hybrid and self-charging hybrid versions of the Niro, and is taking orders for an all-new Soul EV, which promises a range of up to 280 miles. It will cost £33,795 after the government’s plug-in car grant.

The three-minute film will be available on demand and will be supported by social media, traditional TV advertising and digital display marketing.

It’s not the first time Kia has teamed up with Sky Media to raise brand awareness. Following broadcast sponsorship of Sky Sports Cricket, Kia saw a 21 percent increase in spontaneous awareness of the brand, with 38 percent of viewers indicating a purchase intent to buy a car.

The challenge was to change the brand perception that lagged behind reality, with consumer insight suggesting that many people saw Kia as a company offering low-priced small cars.

If consumers think the kids are alright, Kia could find that shifting electric cars is child’s play.

JCB is now building its electric digger

electric JCB mini digger

JCB has put its fully electric digger into production, making “manufacturing history… with the construction industry’s first fully-electric mini excavator”. The new mini digger is in demand the world over, but is built closer to home in Cheadle, Staffordshire.

The company has delivered 50 examples of the 1.9-tonne 19C-1E digger, which is capable of completing a typical day’s work on a single charge, or idly run for 120 hours (or five days).

It’s five-times quieter than diesel machines, and can be juiced up in two hours using the optional 380-420-volt three-phase charger. Standard charging time is 12 hours on the 110-volt on-board charger, or 8 hours using the 220-240v on-board charger. 

electric JCB mini digger

One thing it has over its diesel predecessors is the potential to be used indoors. Without any emissions, doing so wouldn’t break any regulations on indoor air quality. It should be a nice addition to the fleets of companies wanting to work in urban areas with strict emissions controls.

JCB expects the three-pack batteries to be good up to 85 percent capacity after 2,000 full charge and discharge cycles. That’s equivalent to around 10 years of work. If every day of working is a charge and recharge cycle, that’s nearly eight years of year-round five-day weeks (without holidays). What doesn’t back that up, however, is the warranty. The machine and batteries are warrantied for up to two years.

“In urban environments in particular, contractors are understandably very keen to operate zero-emissions equipment whenever possible,” said JCB chief innovation officer Tim Burnhope.

electric JCB mini digger

As with electric cars, running an electric digger is expected to be quite a bit cheaper too. JCB reckons that, over the first five years, charging will be 50 percent cheaper than filling up with diesel. On top of that, servicing is expected to be as much as 70 percent cheaper than diesel models.

“This is a historic moment for JCB and for JCB Compact Products” said JCB’s MD of compact products Robert Winter.

“We are delighted to go into full production with the industry’s first fully electric mini excavator. The machine has a very promising future ahead of it.”

BMW previews 2021 iNEXT electric SUV development

BMW iNEXT electric SUV

BMW calls the iNEXT its ‘technology flagship’. It will feature BMW’s fifth-generation electric drive unit with the potential for Level 3 autonomous facilities. BMW’s first electric SUV is also expected to have a range of 370 miles when it launches in 2021.

Before that, BMW has to get the car ready for production. The Pilot Plant in its Research and Innovation Centre is currently preparing iNEXT prototypes.

BMW electric SUV

Though prototypes are used to ready the finished cars, this step in the development process is just as important. The early production phase allows them to work out exactly how they want to build it, developing new processes and improving quality.

It’s also important given that the iNEXT will be built alongside internal combustion and hybrid cars.

BMW iNEXT electric SUV

“Preparing a fully electric vehicle for series production is an exciting but challenging task,” said Udo Hänle, head of production integration and pilot plant

“By the time of the official start of production, we will have built as many as 100 prototypes of the BMW iNEXT. Until then, the Pilot Plant will use a range of new innovations to streamline and speed up our processes even further. We are also already preparing our first production associates from Plant Dingolfing to work on the new product.”

BMW iNEXT electric SUV

Even down to the bare bones, BMW is moving things along for the iNEXT. A new technique called rotary bonding is used to join pieces of aluminium and high-strength steel. It’s then checked by a new laser radar quality control system. X-ray tomography then allows them to examine the quality of the assembly without taking the car apart.

Virtual reality is also used to compare physical parts with the CAD (computer-aided design) models.

British motorists still have ‘range anxiety’

British drivers still have range anxiety

A year on from the government’s announcement of the Road to Zero plan, British motorists remain hesitant about a number of aspects of EV motoring. From the charging infrastructure to the cars themselves, the majority of us still have our doubts.

Infrastructure

UK drivers still have range anxiety

A survey of motorists has revealed that the charging infrastructure in the UK is the most worrying aspect of EV motoring. Over two-thirds (69 percent) said that the maturity of the UK’s network of electric car chargers caused concerns. 

By contrast, Department for Transport figures suggest that there are getting on for 9,000 locations housing 24,000 charging points across the country. For context, there are 8,396 petrol stations.

Range

British drivers still have range anxiety

The figures also suggest that the majority of British drivers are still concerned about how far electric cars can go on a charge. Over half (57 percent) said that fears about range remained a barrier to adopting an EV.

With the likes of the long-range Hyundai Kona EV and Kia e-Nero, affordable 250-mile capable electric cars are now readily available. The Vauxhall Corsa e and the Peugeot e-208 are also joining the fray, with the Volkswagen ID.3 to follow. The number of viable usable and affordable all-electric cars on the market is steadily increasing.

Awareness isn’t where it needs to be, but that takes time. Hopes were that it would be quicker.

British drivers still have range anxiety

That’s not all. Charging at home and maintenance are two aspects of electric car ownership that continue to worry many of us.

“There are still some ownership concerns,” said Alison Bell, marketing director at the company behind the research, Venson Automotive Solutions.  

“41 percent of people we surveyed expressed concern over the practicalities of being able to charge their vehicle at home. And 30 percent said they had concerns over service, maintenance and repair costs.”

Fleet buyers could blaze a trail

UK drivers still have range anxiety

There is some good news, however. In contrast to private buyers, business and fleet buyers could blaze a trail when it comes to EVs.

“With charging and battery range concerns abated, EV fleets should now be far more appealing to businesses,” Bell continued.

British drivers still have range anxiety

“The revised BiK charges, which sees zero-emission electric vehicle tax liability for company car drivers fall from 2 percent to 0 percent for the tax year 2020-21, will also appeal to company car drivers which should boost demand for EVs in the next 12 months.”

“Further good news is that 86 percent of motorists surveyed said that a ‘lack of clarity in terms of ownership implications as a company car driver’ is a thing of the past, and more than two thirds of drivers said that they had a good understanding of the costs and convenience of owning an EV.”

2019 MG ZS EV

2019 MG ZS EV review: the people’s electric car

2019 MG ZS EVInterest in electric cars is rising exponentially, but it’s easy to be put off. Price is the first hurdle many don’t clear; few dip below the psychological barrier of £30,000. Range is another, evidenced by the new Mini Electric and Honda e: the manufacturers reckon 125 miles is enough. Motorists seem inclined to disagree.

The first brand to launch a genuinely affordable family-friendly electric car with a decent range could well set a landmark in the roll-out of electric cars in Britain. And MG Motor thinks it is that brand.

2019 MG ZS EV

The new MG ZS has arrived, with an entry-level price for £28,495. Take off the government Plug-in Car Grant and this drops to £24,995. Add in a grant-matching incentive from MG, for the first 1,000 British buyers, and the electric MG plummets to just £21,495. That’s £10,000 less than the Kia e-Niro, the previous affordable EV champ that’s now sold out for well over a year.

Landmark? This small family-sized electric SUV could genuinely be a gamechanger, both for MG and the electric car market.

2019 MG ZS EV

The UK first drive event was held at the brand’s commodious new London HQ on the Marylebone Road in London. We weren’t going far: a 12-mile route deep into traffic and congestion and back. And we were lucky to get this, such is the interest in the new ZS EV from its near-100 UK dealers. They were descending en mass straight after us to also find out if they have a little bit of history on their hands.

Visually, there are no surprises with the electric ZS. There’s a cool new Pimlico Blue clue colour choice, which design director Carl Gotham calls “the colour of the future”. The diamond-cut alloy wheel design looks like electricity windmill blades. And, when you lift the MG in the front grille to reveal the charging socket, the logo pulses with blue light to confirm it’s being recharged.

Battery size is 44.5 kWh (the latest Nissan Leaf launched with 40 kWh and only now offers a 62 kWh option). The motor produces 143 horsepower, for 0-62mph acceleration in a decent 8.5 seconds – a fair bit quicker than the petrol-powered MG ZS. The official range is 163 miles, which extends to 231 miles if you remain strictly city-based. A Nissan Leaf (whose pre-grant prices start from £31,495) does 168 miles and 258 miles on the same test.

2019 MG ZS EV

The MG ZS EV has a bit more presence than a Leaf, because it’s a taller SUV-style vehicle, rather than a hatchback. It looks tough and chunky, with a big grille and nice rear wheel arch haunches. It won’t turn heads, but it’s pleasant. The raised driving position, with a good view across the bonnet, is confident. It feels roomy inside too, with adult-like space in the rear seats and a voluminous boot. (Batteries are located underneath the floor, so it’s no less roomy than a normal ZS small SUV.)

2019 MG ZS EV

Base ZS EVs are called Excite. These still have an 8.0-inch touchscreen display with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus keyless entry, Jaguar-style rotary gearshifter and an advanced suite of driver-assist gadgetry called MG Pilot. But the test Exclusive is more appealing: for £2,000 more, it adds leather-look seats, panoramic roof, rear parking camera and a stitched dash top. It looked and felt decent quality, with shiny plastics reserved for the door trims. Showroom appeal is high.

And to drive? As spooky and eye-opening as any good electric vehicle for first-time EV drivers. It pulls away silently, with little whirr or whine from the motor, and it rides quietly, with decent cushioning on regular city roads (although there is some audible patter over bumps). Refinement remains fine as urban speeds rise, and even the climate control was not too loud despite the hot summer weather.

2019 MG ZS EV

The sporty leather steering wheel was nice to hold (pity about the lack of reach adjust) and the ZS EV seemed to respond cleanly. Accelerator pedal surge ranges from genteel to punchy, depending on the choice of mode from a toggle on the centre console. Another, labelled ‘KERS’, gives three levels of battery regeneration – it’s not quite a ‘one-pedal’ car though, so won’t slow to a standstill when you lift the accelerator.

The electric drivetrain itself is the most satisfying aspect, though. At slow speed, it’s incredibly smooth and linear, giving a feeling way more sophisticated than a regular petrol car. It seems to glide along, just like a car from the future; only a driveline ‘thunk’ as you go on and off the accelerator slightly spoils the impression.

2019 MG ZS EV

MG is ready for electric. Its dealers are equipped with charge points (and it’s giving away a home charger to the first 1,000 buyers). Staff have been trained to demystify electric motoring for customers. It has worked hard to present the UK’s best-value all-inclusive electric car deal. And, on first evidence, the MG ZS EV is a good enough drive for it to reap the rewards.

The target is matching the Nissan Leaf for sales. MG says, unlike Hyundai and Kia, getting enough cars to meet demand won’t be a problem. What are the odds on this becoming Britain’s best-selling electric car? So perfect is MG’s timing, it’s actually not such a crazy thought.

Prices and specs

  • Power: 143 horsepower
  • 0-62 mph: 8.5 seconds
  • Battery size: 44.5 kWh
  • Range: 163 miles (WLTP)

MG ZS EV price list

  • Excite: £28,495

(£24,995 after Plug-in Car Grant; £21,495 after MG EV incentive)

  • Exclusive: £30,495

(£28,495 after Plug-in Car Grant; £23,495 after MG EV incentive)

New electric car study reveals buyer ‘tipping points’

electric vehicle adoption tipping points

Just one in four people would consider buying an EV in the next five years, according to a Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration (CVEI) study into the adoption of electric cars and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

The research, conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), reveals the ‘tipping points’ for when mainstream consumers are likely to adopt fully electric vehicles and PHEVs, with information gathered from vehicles and charge points for 584,000 miles of journeys and 15,700 charge events.

As part of the study, British motorists were given three different Volkswagen Golfs to drive for four days each: an electric e-Golf, a Golf GTE plug-in hybrid and a GT Edition.

The drivers were interviewed after the study, with 75 percent of them claiming they would not consider buying a fully electric vehicle within the next five years.

Rapid chargers will up the pace

BP Chargemaster rapid charging hub at Milton Keynes Coachway

But some of the other key findings painted a brighter picture for the adoption of electric vehicles. These include:

  • Fifty percent of consumers said they would choose a PHEV as a main or second car, or an electric vehicle as a second car, within the next five years.
  • Fifty percent of consumers would consider an electric vehicle as a main car if its range increased to 200 miles; increasing to 90 percent if the range was 300 miles.
  • Consumer adoption can be encouraged by the provision of rapid chargers every 20 miles on motorways and A-roads, along with the roll-out of 150kW chargers.
  • Direct financial incentives are critical to electric car adoption, with grants rated as the most important.

Adoption dictated by consumer demand

Honda e electric city car

Dr Neale Kinnear, head of behavioural science at TRL, said: “The need for cleaner, more efficient modes of travel is increasingly required to meet objectives such as the Road to Zero. However, the pace of this change will ultimately be dictated by consumer demand.

“With this ground-breaking CVEI project, TRL and its partners are providing vital evidence proving the mass market is willing to make the switch to electric vehicles, within particular parameters. The detailed findings will help inform UK and European policy and industry, including what is required by the energy sector to enable it to successfully contend with the resultant significant increase in electricity demand.”

Hannah Al-Katib, CVEI project manager, added: “This innovative project has required the expertise of a wide range of partners in order to deliver findings that will have real-world impact. As well as the data generated from this project, the unique challenges of delivering these ambitious and complex trials has provided insights into the types of challenges we face in transitioning to a future of zero emission vehicles.”

2019 Kia e-Niro

Kia corrects electric range of new e-Niro after test error discovered

It’s a revision downwards, but the Kia e-Niro is still among the longest-range electric cars on sale – and easily the best for under £30,000

Green plate

Government debates green number plates for ‘green’ cars

Green plate

Your ‘green’ car may soon come with a green number plate, letting the world know you’re driving a clean vehicle – and giving you access to special low-emission vehicle lanes.

A forthcoming government consultation will discuss whether green plates could work in the UK. Similar schemes have been implemented in Norway, Canada and China in a bid to promote the uptake of cleaner vehicles.

It’s not just aesthetics, either. A road network crafted to reward low- and zero-emissions vehicles could use green number plates to identify cars that are allowed to use dedicated lanes and zones in cities. Plate scans could keep EV charging bays free of smog-makers looking for an easy parking spot, too.

“This new cleaner, greener transport has the potential to bring with it cleaner air, a better environment and stronger economies for countries around the world” said Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary.

Jaguar I-Pace

“Adding a green badge of honour to these new clean vehicles is a brilliant way of helping increase awareness of their growing popularity in the UK, and might just encourage people to think about how one could fit into their own travel routine.”

The Motoring Research view

Would we drive a zero-emission vehicle if it came complete with a green ‘badge of honour’ number plate?

Although the visual aspect feels somewhat trivial, the integration of green plates into a system that rewards owners is appealing.

Anything that helps cement a comprehensive electric and hybrid car infrastructure, and offers benefits for those who go green, gets a thumbs-up from us.

Renault Zoe

The announcement of these plans comes ahead of a multi-nation summit begining tomorrow (September 11) in Birmingham. It’s to be the first of its type dedicated to the discussion of zero-emissions vehicles.

The aim is to get international agreement on the so-called zero-emissions journey, charting uptake and integration of EVs and other low-polluting vehicles across the globe.

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Electric car wallbox charger

Electric car owners will be encouraged to charge at off-peak times

Electric car wallbox charger

Owners of electric vehicles will be encouraged to recharge cars at times when electricity is cheaper, energy regulator Ofgem has announced. 

According to the analysis published today, Ofgem says that if owners use ‘flexible charging’, where they only top up during off-peak times, at least 60 percent more EVs could be charged up compared with ‘inflexible charging’, where EVs are only charged at peak times.

This, the regulator claims, would avoid the need to upgrade the network structure. To achieve this, Ofgem is proposing the adoption of so-called ‘time of use’ tariffs, with cheaper electricity when there is less strain on the grid.

The flexible use of the grid will also accommodate more renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar power.

Britain braced for a ‘radical transformation’

Jonathan Brearley, executive director, systems and networks, Ofgem, said: “Ofgem is working with the government to support the electric vehicle revolution in Britain, which can bring big benefits to consumers. Our reforms will help more users charge their electric vehicles and save them money. 

“The proposals we have announced today will also harness the benefits of electric vehicles and other new technologies to help manage the energy system and keep costs down for all consumers. The way we generate, transport and use electricity – and power our cars – is undergoing a radical transformation in Great Britain.

“Ofgem will ensure that the energy system is fit for this exciting, cleaner future and at the lowest cost for consumers.”

Responding to a question about all EVs plugging in at the same time, Tom Callow, director of communications and strategy at Chargemaster, tweeted: “I hate to alarm you, but if we all boiled our kettles at precisely the same time, the grid would not cope.

“But, guess what? Just like the scenario where all EVs are charging at precisely the same time… it will not happen!”

To benefit from the incentives, EV drivers will require a smart meter installed at their home, as well as an electric charger. Ofgem says it will work with the industry to overhaul energy system rules, and hopes to put the reforms in place between 2022 and 2023.

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