Report advises local authorities how to improve electric vehicle infrastructure

Improving parking payments and pricing, designing charging around use of parking space, and planning ahead of energy demand, are all required if local authorities want to make a successful transition to electric vehicle (EV) uptake, according to a new report today by Flowbird.

The White Paper Combining Parking and EV Charging to Support All Drivers explores how to create a smooth user journey for EV drivers, and to make the process easier for local authorities (LAs), when upgrading parking spaces to include EV chargers.

Through expert interviews and ongoing conversations with local authorities, Flowbird has created the report to help LAs navigate the complexity of a managed roll out of charging infrastructure into parking spaces across the UK.

This research found that drivers want clear transparent payment options, but not complexity. A number of LAs are actively seeking on street terminals – akin to parking terminals that connect to charge points, and let users select their charge, and swipe their card.

Danny Hassett, Managing Director, Flowbird Smart City UK Limited, said: “In the smartphone age, it can be easy to forget that some people find a physical payment terminal easier to use, and this is especially true of older or lower income drivers. Not everyone wants to download an app – let alone several – and share all their data in order to refuel their car. An inclusive strategy gives people options.”

“Plan ahead by working with the DNO. When the time comes to upgrade, put underground ducting in to meet long-term capacity needs so it’s easy to add capacity later without digging things up again.”

Sara Sloman, Head of Future Mobility Partnerships, Elmtronics

In addition, EV drivers also don’t want to navigate complex pricing. It was acknowledged that parking and charging will have different costs, and charging may have different tariffs at different times – so local authorities will need to deal with blended parking and charging tariffs, which may be an all-in hourly charge for an EV space, or a charge for the energy used, or a charging rate that drops to a parking rate when the charge is finished.

“Key to all of this” says James O’Neill of Paythru, who contributed to the report, “is a single payment platform capable of integrating multiple end points – including chargers, parking terminals, apps, and connected vehicles – and managing a wide range of complex tariffs across the LA’s estate.”

Flowbird’s whitepaper also emphasises choosing the right EV charger for the right need. This is important as not all chargers are what they seem and LA’s need to choose the right charger for the right vehicle.

“The on-board chargers on some vehicles have electronic restrictions that defy logic”, says David Pearce of David Pearce Electrical, a company which delivers Local Authority EV installations, who also contributed to the report.

“For example, sometimes electronic limitations mean the vehicle receives 3.7kW if connected to a 11kW charger, making the 11kW slower than a 7kW. Only 22kW AC chargers can ‘be all things to all vehicles’. The output flexibility of a 22kW unit will ensure that a vehicle receives charge to the maximum ability of the vehicle’s on-board systems.”

Existing parking data, including automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) can help understand types of vehicles and space utilisation, and so form a strategy for which chargers should go where. This can be combined with a city planning strategy to meet evolving charging needs, or incentivise new behaviours.

Alongside payments, pricing and charging, any EV deployment will need to calculate the anticipated energy demand and design installation from a loading perspective. An assessment of usage patterns using parking data can give an indication of likely demand and allow LAs to design energy systems to meet them, then use load management software to manage delivery.

Flowbird’s research suggests that when upgrades are needed, “plan ahead by working with the DNO”, says Sara Sloman, Head of Future Mobility Partnerships at Elmtronics. She added: “Notify them early of your plans, so that they can advise whether that location has a good electrical capacity. When the time does come to upgrade, put the underground ducting in in one go to meet long term capacity needs so it’s easy to add more capacity later without digging things up again.”

About Flowbird

Flowbird’s full range of parking, transport, and charging technologies, alongside data-driven insights, help local authorities evolve with the needs of their users, young and old. Our sixty years’ experience as a trusted Local Authority partner, and our market-leading service support, make us the perfect partner to navigate changing demographics, digitalisation and climate pressures.

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