UK experts: Hybrids should be banned from public charging because they take too long
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Hybrid vehicles should be banned from using motorway chargepoints because they take too long to top up, according to a report.
Slower-charging plug-in hybrids with batteries and electric motors that supplement their petrol and diesel engines are blocking equipment required for battery-only vehicles on long journeys, a study for the UK RAC Foundation warned.
The latest battery-only cars need just five minutes at the quickest chargepoints to add 15 miles to their range, compared with an hour for almost all plug-in hybrids.
Battery-only cars have no combustion engine and are therefore more reliant on the network or public chargers that are available in the UK.
On the other hand, when a plug-in hybrid model runs low on battery capacity it can fall back on using conventional fuel or a combination of both power sources.
Report author Harold Dermott recommended that chargepoints at motorway service areas should be reserved solely for battery-only cars until plug-in hybrids have a greater electricity-only range and can charge faster.
The latest battery-only cars need just five minutes at the quickest ‘Rapid’ chargepoints to take on enough electricity to add around 15 miles of range.
However, because of the limitations of their on-board control units, it will take almost all plug-in hybrids an hour or so – or twelve times as long – to achieve a similar level of charge.
This mismatch means that expensive, high-specification equipment which is essential to battery-only vehicles on long journeys could be blocked by other, slower-charging vehicles.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: 'Ever-faster and more powerful chargepoints might sound like the answer to creating the electric car recharging network we need, but if the cars themselves can only be recharged at a certain rate then at best we’re going to be disappointed and at worst we’re going to waste money. Compatibility between car and charger is key.
'In an area where policy, technology and the market are almost falling over themselves, such is the pace of change, communication between all parties is fundamental.
'Neither society nor drivers will reap all the potential rewards of greener transport if there is confusion about how it should best be delivered.
'However, there are good signs of progress. Even as we go to print some of the issues highlighted in the report are being addressed.
'Government is funding seventeen electric vehicle charging hubs through its Go Ultra Low Cities programme, and work is proceeding apace in both the Mayor for London’s chargepoint Task Force and the national Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce.
'Ultimately, refuelling electric vehicles should be at least as convenient and fuss-free as filling up with petrol or diesel. As the report makes clear we may be on the right road but we are not there yet.'
This isn't the first time hybrid-car owners have been called out for blocking chargepoints.
Back in 2016, Ecotricity - which operates over 300 plug-in points on the motorway network - said for hybrids, like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, to use fast charger on the motorway was 'inappropriate use'.
Founder Dale Vince told Radio 4 listeners in an aired interview: '[The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV] is not designed to be used on electric power for long journeys. It's designed for running around town on its very small electric battery, filling up at home or at your destination over a period of several hours.
'It's an inappropriate use of a fast charger at motorway services.
'It is only the Mitsubishi that can plug into a fast charger – all of the others [PHEVs] just plug into a type-two or three-pin socket over a period of several hours.
'The [Mitsubishi] hybrid is essentially a compromised car. It's an electric vehicle with a very small battery and a petrol engine so that you have the back-up of the petrol engine for long journeys.
'It's designed to use its petrol engine for long journeys. It takes half an hour to charge on a fast charger, and then you can travel 20 to 25 miles, and then you have to stop for another half an hour - it's just not practical.
'The point of a hybrid is that they don't have to charge. They have a petrol engine for a long journey, that's the whole point of them. It's just been an anomalous use of our network and our fast charge technology.'
The report also looked at the reliability of the public chargepoint network, which has been criticised by many electrified-car owners who have frequently turned up to find a plug-in point is out of use.
The study found that the number of out of service chargepoints fell from 14.8 per cent to 8.3 per cent in the last year.
While this is an improvement, there are still too many malfunctions, Mr Dermott said.
At the end of July 2018 there were 112,000 plug-in hybrid and 54,000 pure battery-electric vehicles registered in the UK.
- Daily Mail
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