31 January 2024 EV Charging

What is the future of EV charging?

Up close photo of EV charger

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been on a steady rise in recent years, with sales climbing from 2.1m to 3.1m between 2021 and 2023 in the UK alone.

Studies across the board strongly evidence this ascension will only continue to accelerate, with growth stemming largely from the global shift towards a net zero future. Indeed, the need for EVs (and chargers) is reflected by the impact transport has on the UK’s carbon footprint. Declarations at COP28 and recent mandates also reflect the urgency for the transition to green transport as soon as possible, with UK government pledging to force it into reality.  

This blog will highlight how landowners and organisations with publicly-accessible sites have a big role to play in this shift, with an untapped opportunity to take advantage of society’s increasing need for EV charging infrastructure (whilst reaping the benefits that come from that requirement).  This blog will also investigate why the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors must service the need for strengthened EV charging infrastructure, and thus play a fundamental role in humanity’s battle against climate change.

What is the future of EV charging? 

EVs are paramount to help secure a greener future, establish a world less dependent on fossil fuels, and help realise net-zero goals. The pivotal role that EV charging has to play in this journey is evidenced by the steady rise of EVs on our roads today.   

A study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that in Europe alone, EV sales rose from 2.1m in 2021 to 2.4m in 2022. The biggest rise, however, came last year in 2023; 700,000 new EVs hit the road. On top of this, 28.4% of all new UK vehicle registrations in December 2023 were EVs (including hybrids). So, in the simplest terms, this means the rapidly growing number of EV drivers need more publicly-available, commercial EV chargers to ensure the functionality of their vehicles.   

To predict the future of EV charging, we can call on the rapid growth it too has experienced in recent years in line with this trend. Zapmap outlines how 2023 saw a 45% increase in UK EV charge point installation – a record rate of growth – rising from a 31% increase the year before. Future projections also look promising. Statista believe charging point revenue is expected to exceed £149m this year, extending to almost £210m in 2025. By 2027, Statista suggest EV charging stations will procure revenue in excess of £296m.   

Therefore, it is safe to assume that with the rise of EVs, the value of and demand for EV chargers will naturally follow. But going even further, the emergence of the EV charging industry and why it is happening is potentially best found in what makes them and the cars they charge so important to society.  

Why is EV charging important? 

The bright future of EVs is reflected by the urgent need to reduce carbon-emitting transport on British roads. Transportation, as it stood in 2021, equated to more than a quarter of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions427 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.  

In comparison, the IEA claims the total number of global EVs consumed approximately 110 TWh of electricity in 2022, which accounts for less than 0.5% of the current total global annual electricity consumption. 

The difference in the environmental impact between carbon-emitting transport and EVs is stark, and society has begun to understand the role zero-emission vehicles have in embedding sustainable development and combatting climate change. However, the global relationship with fossil fuels has been – and will continue to be – complicated to untangle.  

But with progress made at the United Nations’ recent COP28 summit on climate change, efforts have been made to accelerate net-zero progression and combat transport emissions. Following its much-criticised recent policy decision to put back its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035, the UK government began 2024 by introducing a mandate setting out a fresh, new strategy to lower transport carbon emissions and give the EV industry a shot in the arm; the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate.   

Why society needs more EV charging infrastructure 

The ZEV mandate demands car manufacturers ensure at least 22% of new cars sold in 2024 are entirely zero-emission, eventually rising to 80% in 2030. If automakers fail to hit the target, they will face substantial fines, meaning it has the potential to completely change the British transport landscape over the next few years.  

2024 will, however, need further proactive action to reach its green potential. Recently, the UK government has come under fire for failing to meet a long-standing target of having at least six rapid or ultra-rapid EV chargers at every service station in England. Only 46 out of 119 service stations fit the criteria. This leaves a significant commercial opportunity for landowners to plug the gap –  serve the obvious, increasing need for chargers – and enjoy steady financial returns in partnership with a reputable Charge Point Operator (CPO).   

Why commercial EV charging is the future 

With the rapid rise (and future projection) of EVs on the road, commercial sites such as retail parks, shopping centres and hospitality venues, could be left behind if they do not afford visitors the opportunity to charge their cars. Aside from servicing customer needs, installing EV chargers hands landowners and developers an alternative income stream that will only increase with the rising popularity of EVs. Landowners, real estate developers and asset managers can, therefore, pre-empt the blossoming market interest – future-proofing real estate with EV charging infrastructure – and ensure the long-term attractiveness of their site by investing in green energy solutions.  

The most distinctly accessible EV charging option that ensures minimal disruption (and investment required) for landowners and developers is a hosting agreement with a CPO.  Such agreements sees the CPO fully-fund the build and operation of EV charging assets, with the landowner receiving guaranteed index-linked revenue  resulting from the EV drivers who visit the site and pay to charge their vehicles.

Commercial EV Charging has the power to do more than just attract EV drivers to the site. Users would spend anywhere from thirty minutes to several hours on-site depending on the type of chargers installed. This correlates to increased footfall and activity which can translate into further revenue, with the help of attractive hospitality, entertainment and retail offerings.

But it means much more than that. EV chargers also play a symbolic role in facilitating a widespread progressive culture change in commercial and industrial enterprise. This isn’t just about converting EV drivers into customers – a significant factor in deciding to install EV chargers on hotel sites and retail parks – but it’s also about demonstrating a responsible reputation towards the environment.  

This is becoming increasingly prevalent especially with the heightened climate change coverage within the media and with it, how it is affecting consumer attitudes. A FirstInsight study claims consumers are more motivated to pay a premium to shop at sustainable brands or outlets than ever before. As tokens for green progression, EV chargers are a prime attraction for brands who aspire to have a stronger association with green initiatives and are swiftly becoming a valuable resource for landowners and developers in securing lucrative leasing opportunities.

It should, however, not be forgotten the wider environmental role the EV charging industry has moving forward. EV charging will assume a position of vast importance – harbouring the future of zero-emission transport and ensuring our planet remains within the 1.5C threshold. Therefore, those in a position to host EV charging infrastructure have an invaluable role in providing it, helping contribute to preserving (and replenishing) the health of planet Earth.  

EV charging, consequently, promises to have a bright future. It will play a decisive role in combatting climate change, whilst ensuring EVs continue their ascension in the automobile industry, and thus safeguard the planet for generations to come by anchoring the transition to zero-emission transport.  

Ready to work with a commercial partner with significant experience? At SMS, we offer end-to-end EV charging solutions to help you maximise revenue and future-proof your site. 

Contact us to find out more about our EV roadside charging solutions. 

Download the Whitepaper

A guide for developers, landowners and local authorities on the effective rollout of national public EV charging infrastructure and the importance of the three Rs: Right location. Right time. Right speed.