Townhouses are less likely to have off-street parking than in rural or suburban areas, and 78 percent of resident-owned American homes have a garage or carport, compared to only 37 percent for those rented, according to U.S. Census data. “This burden is certainly felt harder by those living in urban areas, as private garages with electricity are almost universal outside the dense urban centers of the United States,” Hall says. “Even in cities in the United States, off-street parking is relatively common, but these are often in communal garages where there may be no access to electricity.”
In short, cities with the greatest need for electric cars are the most hostile to them, and low-income residents who would benefit most financially from dropping gas may end up paying a premium. Installing an abundance of charging points throughout cities – on streets, in parking garages, in retail premises and in offices – can solve the first challenge, but ensuring that electric charging is fair is a more difficult problem to solve.
Meanwhile, lower-income city dwellers will either pay more for an electric car or not drive one at all. “One of these opportunities reinforces economic inequality and may also contribute to a popular perception of electric vehicles as a technology for wealthy people and not for the wider community, hampering efforts to accelerate adoption,” says Hall.
To help close the gap, electricity electricity prices could be reduced through regulation or lures to utilities. The UK should reconsider value added tax (VAT) as electricity for the home has a VAT of 5 per cent while electricity sold at charging points has a VAT of 20 per cent.
There are other solutions. Bonsu is calling for faster community chargers, rather than just gas stations, while Hall suggests that EV points be required in all new buildings or those undergoing major renovations, be it shops, homes or office blocks. Hall warns against assuming that only white-collar workers want chargers that should be installed in industrial parks, retail locations and other places where people work. “While it will take some time to make an impact, it may help ensure that once electric vehicles make up the majority of the fleet, far more motorists will have access to affordable, convenient charging,” says Hall.
But there is more to the problem than the availability of infrastructure – charging networks are too complicated, which adds extra burdens beyond the financial. There are dozens of providers, each with their own payment app, subscription systems and prices, not to mention connection fees and other additional costs and different chargers. “The user experience that comes with using public chargers versus a home charger is night and day,” says Patrick Reich, CEO and co-founder of the charging aggregation and payment app Bonnet.
Another complaint is reliability: Drivers show up at charging points to find out they are in use, out of service or not compatible with their car. “People are not so concerned about range anymore, but they have charging anxiety – when they show up to recharge, they want to be sure it works and is available for use,” says Melanie Shufflebotham, COO and co-founder of Zap -Map.