Report pulls plug on electric car expectations

The large scale roll out of plug-in electric vehicles will be hindered unless investors stimulate demand, lower the cost of public charging infrastructure and manage the impact on the grid. […]

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By Kelvin Ross

The large scale roll out of plug-in electric vehicles will be hindered unless investors stimulate demand, lower the cost of public charging infrastructure and manage the impact on the grid.

That’s the conclusion of consultants Accenture in a new report which analyzed a range of electric vehicle trials around the world, focusing on pure electric vehicles that depend entirely on charging from the electric grid.

The report found that the business case for investing in public charging infrastructure is weak due to high costs and initial consumer preferences for home charging.

It also concluded that infrequent charging by consumers will limit the ability to control the impact of charging on power flows. Pilots show that pure-electric-vehicles meet the driving requirements of typical city users who may therefore not plug in their cars daily. This increases the unpredictability of charging and reduces control. Plugging in vehicles whenever parked will help grid management, easing the strain on the grid.

And Accenture also found that while most electrification technologies work in isolation, there are too few electric vehicles in pilot areas to robustly test the technologies and their integration with each other. Grid impact will thus need to continue to be closely monitored as the market develops.

“Plug-in EVs have extensive implications for business models because they require changes in consumer behaviour and can increase strain on the grid,” said Melissa Stark of Accenture. “It will be critical to improve understanding of consumer preferences and to change consumer behaviour through creative incentives if utilities and service providers are to manage the impact on the grid.”