A tenfold increase in ‘destination charging’ and 30-fold rise in rapid charging capacity is needed in London over the next five to eight years to make mass electric vehicle use viable, Chargemaster chief executive David Martell told local authority figures at a green transport event on 21 January.

Speaking at the Go London Charging event, Martell flagged how increasing plug-in hybrid use has seen rocketing charging point demand, with plug-n hybrid EV’s lower electric-only range than fully electric models necessitating greater charging point provision to ensure environmental benefits.

“Increasingly, the big use is from plug-in hybrids,” Martell stated. “So if you go to a shop or the station with a plug-in hybrid, you need to charge. If you’ve got a battery electric vehicle you’ll probably just wait until you get home.”

Martell also predicted that UK EV numbers could leap from 52,000 to 250,000 by 2020, potentially with 70,000 in LondonĀ  – a tenfold increase. Additionally, he described “a real need” for more destination charging – “where you drive somewhere, maybe a golf club, hotel or restaurant and spend a lot of time there” – along with new rapid chargers, saying “there’s a big hole in this kind of facility in London”.

He also raised issues surrounding the need to register for numerous charging accounts, technical compatibility, a lack of competition, and poor charger reliability, and added: “If you park your Nissan Leaf and want to charge but can’t, you might have to abandon your journey; it’s just not acceptable.”

Wireless charging was raised by Qualcomm Halo senior director, business development, Simon Arbuthnot, as another solution, with compatible models likely to arrive within three years: “We see wireless charging as a means to deliver an ecosystem of charging, allowing drivers to charge little and often.”

Wireless charging could come in three forms Arbuthnot claims: static charging, semi-dynamic charging and dynamic charging. Semi-dynamic charging could facilitate practical zero-emissions range for plug-in taxis, with vehicles charging automatically as drivers shuffle along waiting for fares.

Transport for London head of strategy and outcome planning Lilli Matson stated TfL’s desire to work with commercial vehicle fleets and carry out EV trials “because we really need to crack that sector in terms of uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles”.

Meanwhile, professor John Miles from Cambridge University’s engineering department claimed that autonomous vehicles offered vast congestion-reducing scope in addition to safety gains.

Miles stated that a road network of autonomous vehicles could address the 80% of crashes currently caused by human error, providing much greater road capacity, cutting journey times and potentially making the road network better value and more efficient than rail travel