electric car charging

Plug-in hybrid cars should be banned from using chargepoints to make way for electrics, says RAC

Nearly all plug-in hybrids should be banned from using public car charging points because they take too long to recharge and the spaces should be reserved for fully electric vehicles, a report has recommended.

The latest battery-only cars need only five minutes at the quickest ‘Rapid’ chargepoints to take on enough electricity to add about 15 miles of range.

However, because of the limitations of their on-board control units, it will take almost all plug-in hybrids an hour or so – twelve times as long – to achieve a similar result.

This mismatch means that expensive, high-specification equipment which is essential to battery-only vehicles on long journeys could be blocked by other, slower-charging vehicles.

Battery-only cars have no combustion engine, while plug-in hybrids can operate in full electric mode, using conventional fuel or a combination of both.

Report author Harold Dermott, who has spent more than 35 years in the motor manufacturing industry, claimed that confusion over how fast different electric vehicles can be topped up could undermine efforts to provide an adequate public charging network.

He recommended that chargepoints at motorway service areas should be reserved solely for battery-only cars until plug-in hybrids have a greater electricity-only range and can accept electricity at a faster rate.

The report notes that whilst there has been an improvement in the reliability of public chargepoints in the last year – resulting in a reduction of out-of-service chargepoints from 14.8 per cent to 8.3 per cent – there are still too many malfunctions.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “Ever-faster and more powerful chargepoints might sound like the answer to creating the electric car recharging network we need, but if the cars themselves can only be recharged at a certain rate then at best we’re going to be disappointed and at worst we’re going to waste money. Compatibility between car and charger is key.”

The government’s plug-in grant is currently worth up to £3,500 per car and only those vehicles that have a zero-emission range of at least 70 miles are eligible. Plug-in hybrid cars which were previously eligible for the scheme are now excluded.

At the end of July, there were 112,000 plug-in hybrid and 54,000 pure battery-electric vehicles registered in the UK.

In October, a report from Aurora Energy Research found that for electric vehicles to take off in the UK, an additional three million charging points will need to be installed at commercial and industrial sites by 2040. 

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