Electric Car Charging–A Dose Of Reality

NOVEMBER 25, 2020

Electric Car Charging–A Dose Of Reality

NOVEMBER 25, 2020tags: Electric Cars

By Paul Homewood

Fox Valley leads the charge for electric vehicle drivers

Fox Valley Electric Car Charging Bays

I have been doing a bit of digging into the EV chargers at our local shopping centre, which were installed last year.

They are run by a company called InstaVolt, whose Annual Accounts are here. The latest Accounts are for March 2019.

They show that they had 314 units installed at that date, with a Gross Asset value of £5.5m. This works out at an average of about £18,000 each. They all appear to be 50KW units, although there are plans to introduce higher power ones.

It is not clear who paid for the new substation (which you can just see to the right of that white van). But I would assume that must belong to the shopping centre, who will of course recover the cost via rental charges. That would of course significantly increase that figure of £18000, if all capital costs were taken into account.

Given that hardly anybody has an electric car, the finances of InstaVolt are unsurprisingly dire!

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They are funded by an equity investment of £18m from Zouk Capital, an investment fund that specialises in renewable projects. At the current rate of loss, that equity will be wiped out in a couple of years.

Up to now, a lot of car chargers at the likes of Tesco have been free to use, a way of increasing footfall. However, at Tesco at least, these have all been slow 7KW chargers, the sort you would put in your garage at a cost of £1000.

An hour’s charge on one of these would cost around a quid, so they would make good business sense if they bring in customers who might spend £50.

However, 7KW chargers will be far too slow once there are millions of EVs on the road. You certainly would not be able to turn up at Tesco and leave your car there all day, if you had nowhere else to charge it.

Consequently Tesco are now beginning to introduce faster 22 and 50KW chargers. But these are “priced in line with market rates”, probably similar to the 35p/KWh charged by InstaVolt.

There is simply no way Tesco could give away £10 of electricity free to every customer. Nor could they afford to spend £20K for every charger installed. A typical Tesco supermarket with, say, 10 chargers would cost £200K.

The bottom line to all of this?

The free ride is over for EV owners. If you cannot charge at home, you will have to pay through the nose.

The same of course will apply to chargers run by local councils and other public bodies. They might be able to afford free power for the tiny number of EVs currently, but costs will soon balloon once numbers grow.

There is also an important warning here as well. There will be very few investors with either the will or the money to incur the sort of losses which InstaVolt have.

As a result we are unlikely to get the millions of public chargers needed until we have millions of electric cars on the road.

Chicken and egg, I think!

Which brings us back to the question of who will pay for them.

Boris’10-Point Plan pledges £1.3bn for charging infrastructure, but most of this appears to be for the 6000 high-powered chargers promised for motorways and trunk roads. (I would guess we are looking at at least £100,000 each, plus associated infrastructure. I have seen costs of £250,000 for the really fast chargers)

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It is hard to see much money left over for local chargers. A million 50KW chargers, which is probably the minimum we would need, would cost at least £20bn, even before we count the cost of digging up roads and upgrading power cables.

Who will pay for that?

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