If you look back six months, the talk within the electric vehicle sector was of new technology, new vehicles, and low prices. There was very little, if any, real talk of an increase in the number of charging points around the world. However, over the last few days the motoring press, and to a lesser extent the general press, have picked up on the electric charging point situation and everybody seems to want a piece of the action.
This is most certainly a positive move by EV manufacturers and the fact that we can physically see EV companies and charging station developers working together, will help boost confidence in the industry. So what exactly is happening?
Charging station rush
Over the last few days we have seen Tesla introduce an extremely quick battery replacement system, we have seen IKEA announce plans to roll out an array of free charging stations, and today we see that Renault is working with French utility company SyDev on the creation of an EV charging network. Slowly, the industry is coming together and this should dramatically increase the number of electric car charging stations in the short, medium and longer term.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "In what could be a major development for the EV market a number of charging station companies have announced plans to cross market their services. This means that those who are a member of a particular charging station network would still be able to use the services of competing companies, with the two parties offsetting charges."
It will be interesting to see if other electric vehicle manufacturers become involved in this particular move because there is also speculation that some governments and local authorities will offer free home charging stations in the short term as a means of boosting yet more capacity.
Will this make a difference?
It would be incorrect to suggest that there have been no developments in the electric car charging market over the last few years, but these developments have very often revolved around new start-up companies with relatively little in the way of wider appeal. We saw the likes of Better Place come to the market and burn through $850 million of investment capital and then fall by the wayside. It is ironic that the introduction of Better Place went relatively unnoticed by the wider motoring public but the demise of the company caught the headlines!
Now we see the likes of Tesla Motors, General Motors, IKEA and Renault, to name but a few, looking to create widespread recharging station networks. The fact that these names are associated with this new move will not only give consumers more confidence, but will also give investors more confidence. It is very difficult to play down the importance of confidence in these relatively new technologies, such as EV technology, but we will see over the coming months what kind of impact this has.
Has government assistance helped?
While many governments around the world have been focusing their taxpayer funded investment on electric vehicle technology, we are starting to see a move towards battery technology. Indeed the U.S. government recently set up an investment programme which brought in the likes of General Motors in an advisory role. It would appear, from a distance, that more and more elements of the EV market are coming together, acting as one and pushing the industry on at a pace which few believed was possible just a few weeks ago.
It will be interesting to see how far governments around the world are willing to fund the development of new technologies such as battery technology and EV technology. Hopefully they will not take their foot off the pedal in the short term and keep the momentum going for some time to come.