It’s easy to say the world needs more EV charging stations, but how many should there be and where should they be installed in order to provide the maximum advantage to electric vehicle operators? Uber Technologies and Hitachi have teamed up with UK Power Networks and energy suppliers Centrica and SSE to create Optimize Prime, a 3-year study designed to acquire the data needed to answer those questions.
According to Bloomberg, the plan is to flood London with 3,000 electric cars and trucks, then study the driving habits of their operators. The researchers will collect data on where they go and when, how weather affects driving patterns, where they plug in to recharge and how long they stay connected each time. The objective is to use the data collected to devise the optimum network for charging points and evaluating when electricity will be most in demand.
“I want to learn from this project and I think it will help our business,” says Jon Lawes, managing director of vehicle-leasing firm Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions. “We have a responsibility to get ready for electric vehicles and make sure we have the infrastructure, know how we operate the vehicles, how we buy them, how we sell them.”
The information collected will be shared with other companies in the automotive and technology sectors as well as government officials. It is expected the data will assist all interested parties in making the best possible decisions about how, where, and when to expand EV charging networks in the London area. A portion of the study will be conducted in UK Power Networks’ licensed areas in South East England, including the South East Coast of England, Kent, Sussex, and East Anglia.
Uber currently has 65,000 drivers in the UK and is planning for all its drivers to be using electric vehicles by 2025. Centrica already has a fleet of 12,000 electric vans and 2,000 electric cars. The UK was chosen for the study because of its encouragement for electric vehicles and its goal for 60% of new car sales to be EVs by 2030. The project is funded by the UK energy regular Ofgem through the Network Innovation Competition funding pot. UK Power Networks and Hitachi led development of the bid and brought together a consortium to present the successful case to Ofgem for the project to be funded.
On a related note, Volkswagen and retailer Tesco have announced a plan to build the UK’s largest EV charging network, according to SWNS News. They will install 2,500 chargers at Tesco stores during the next three years. Drivers will be able to charge their cars for free using a 7 kW charger, or access a 50 kW charger and pay for the electricity consumed at market rates.
The VW-Tesco plan is clearly designed to attract customers to Tesco stores. But is it an efficient use of resources for moving the EV revolution forward? That is the sort of question the Optimize Prime research is intended to answer.
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