Criticism of Scotland's electric vehicle charging network as being inadequate to cope with the rapid rise in EV ownership has, in recent months, been rife. However, this is being countered by a number of welcomed announcements.
According to Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth MSP, public and private partnerships are key to boosting Scotland's already impressive drive towards greater electric vehicle charge point delivery. The Scottish Government is calling for a doubling of the number of public EV charge points to meet rising EV sales. Country-wide installations of fast and rapid charging facilities are earmarked as critical if targets are to be met ahead of the 2030 deadline, when sales of all petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned.
Encouragingly, international companies such as Osprey Charging and Fastned have breathed life into the marketplace with new installations and promises to add many more in the months ahead. This will add to the 3,000+ existing EV charge points available across the country, not counting the private and company hubs being launched.
Osprey Charging Network recently opened its new high-power charging location at Haddington Retail Park, just off the A1 outside Edinburgh, that can simultaneously charge up to two cars when plugged in. The rapid chargers accept normal contactless bank card payment (as is standard across the Osprey network) and can charge all rapid-enabled vehicles on UK roads today.
A spokesman for Osprey Charging said: 'This is unusual for Osprey... we would normally install one charger per bay to ensure the customer has full access to the advertised max available power at the charger. At Haddington, the grid connection was limited and the dwell time at nearby retail justified this power-sharing approach, to maximise the number of cars the chargers can serve at any one time, lowering waiting times'.
Dutch rapid charging company, Fastned, has opened Scotland's biggest ultra-rapid charging station, located in the Palace Grounds Retail Park in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. Just off the A72 and near the M74, the station is Scotland's biggest ultra-rapid charging hub for EVs. Eight chargers, each of which is supplied by 100% renewable energy, are capable of adding up to 186 miles of range to fully-electric cars in 15 minutes, according to Tom Hurst, the company's country and network development manager.
Fastned's Scottish installation programme matches the government's aims to boost availability of charge points in Scotland by encouraging greater investment from the private sector. This new facility was part-funded by the Scottish Government's Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme. EV drivers will easily locate the new Fastned facility. It boasts a highly visible solar canopy that even helps users stay dry while charging.
Opening Fastned's facilities, Scotland's Transport Minister welcomed the commitment to support Scotland's transition to electric vehicles. She said: 'Public and private sector partnerships will be key in attracting investment and scaling provision at pace. This new station, with its striking design and powered by renewable energy, is a fantastic example of what can be delivered by industry. Scotland is very much at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution and we are seeing impressive growth in uptake. We want to ensure that the public electric vehicle charging network keeps up with demand to meet the needs of people and businesses across the whole of Scotland. Companies like Fastned will have an increasingly important role to play in delivering our net zero ambition. This hub in Hamilton is a fantastic example of what can be done to further encourage people to realise the benefits of driving an electric vehicle'.
Jennifer Walls, director of Electric Vehicle Association Scotland said: 'It is essential that EV journey charger locations offering multiple simultaneous connections become as common as petrol filling stations across the country. The significant increase we are seeing in drivers switching to all-electric vehicles is incredible and so expanding the charging infrastructure in Scotland is vitally important to meet demand. The opening of facilities such as this will be yet a further incentive for owners of petrol and diesel powered vehicles to ignore the myths surrounding the lack of EV charge points and make the switch to all-electric. We are looking forward to seeing many more rapid charging stations installed across the country'.
Fastned has been developing rapid charging infrastructure for electric vehicles across Europe since 2012. Fastned's mission is to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility by giving freedom to electric drivers. Based in Amsterdam, the company has built 199 charging stations in the Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Switzerland. It specialises in developing and operating high power charging infrastructure where drivers can charge their electric vehicle with up to 180 miles of range in 20 minutes before continuing their journey.
It's official: horses can sense an approaching electric vehicle before
its rider, according to a major survey into how they respond to the noise – or lack of it – from EVs. Research by the British Horse Society (BHS), in collaboration with Aberdeen's Robert Gordon University and the Electric Vehicle Association Scotland, shows that low-level noises produced by electrical vehicles can be detected by horses.
The Characterisation of Horse Response to Electric Car Noise
report provides significant insight, not only helping to alleviate concerns from riders about how their horses react to electric vehicles due to limited sound levels, but also when it comes to encouraging drivers, regardless of whether they are driving an electronic or conventional vehicle, to be careful when passing horses on the road, according to BHS.
The research findings were welcomed by EVA Scotland director, Neil Swanson, who said: 'Research such as this is invaluable both from an EV driver's and horse rider/owner's perspective. Safety of horses and their riders on our roads is paramount and understanding of how to support the vigilance of both parties is essential if incidents are to be avoided. As the number of electric vehicles on Scotland's highways and by-ways soars, EVA Scotland encourages all road users to take note of the report's findings and strive towards creating harmony on our roads'.
Last year, there were almost 3,000 (2,943) road incidents involving horses reported to BHS resulting in 66 horses dying (129 were injured); 126 people were injured and 13% of riders were victims of road rage or abuse. Over 84% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse and 75% of incidents occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.
Horse owner and an electric vehicle driver for almost 10 years, Elinor Chalmers, says the report was 'an important piece of research'. She added: 'There is an increasing number of reported incidents involving horses and vehicles. The proportion of electric vehicles on our roads is rising exponentially and therefore it is important to assess how horses react to these quieter vehicles. It will help keep horse, rider and drivers safe when they meet. Even when driving my electric car, I'm always additionally cautious when approaching an equine in case they haven't heard me coming. I find, however, that the horse is often aware of my presence but the rider is not'.
Norrie Hunter is
a motoring journalist and is currently advising Electric Vehicle Association Scotland on press and media communications