In our last IEVOA members newsletter, we asked for feedback on what EV owners do when charging their cars. The hypothesis being that when someone pulls up to charge their car, public infrastructure isn’t necessarily their preferred method of getting electrons but when they use it, they do more than just fill the battery and leave. In other words, EV users at forecourts benefit the business with higher margin items at the till.

We had a great response which gives us statistically relevant information to share.

Firstly, when asked how EV owners would rate Ireland’s public charging infrastructure, 48% rated it 3 out of 5. 35% rated it 2 out of 5. The rest were split between a 2 or a 4 rating.

When prompted to explain their rating, the answers varied. Some themes emerged, though. Notably:

  • People living in more rural areas struggle to commute reliably when they are reliant on public infrastructure
    • This is especially true of folks who drive older cars with smaller battery capacities
  • A noted lack of fast-charging capacity, which will get more constrained over time as more & more EVs come onto the Irish roads
    • Some comments noted that there’s no strategic plan around a ratio of ownership-to-chargers (e.g. every town with n-households should have a charger)
  • A bigger push to have more destination charging infrastructure, particularly with carparks where park-and-ride facilities are promoted, hotels and other public facilities (sports grounds, etc.)
  • Lots of companies coming online to offer some sort of charging services, which could incur technical debt in future
  • The confusion of paying with one of several apps or cards
    • Legislation seemed to be the most common suggestion, forcing vendors to use a single app/card (e.g. Leap) or allowing standard payment card/phone payments
  • Some black spots for infrastructure around the country, notably NW

Almost 60% of EV owners prefer home charging

We then asked to order the priority of where they charge. In order of preference, the voting was:

  1. Home charging (58%)
  2. DC fast-charging public infrastructure (26%)
  3. Rapid chargers (IONITY, etc.) (8%)
  4. AC public infrastructure (5%)
  5. Private infrastructure (company car parks, etc.) (3%)

When asked to elaborate on answers, some of the comments touched on the following:

  • Much better maintained fast-charging infrastructure, noting that even when fast-chargers exist, their reliability is nowhere near high enough to be considered useful
  • Most people should want to charge at home, and urban/town-based public chargers should be considered a destination charger to cover people travelling, as opposed to the main outlet for car charging
  • Homes without a driveway or apartments are finding it incredibly difficult to get permission to install chargers
    • Local authorities are the suggested avenue to encourage change, by several folks
    • More than a few people noted that home charging (whether owner, renter, house or apartment) should be prioritised
    • Moreover, home charging is the best avenue to establish carbon-neutral charging through solar PV, which isn’t always an option (or known entity) at public infrastructure sites
  • The only way to make long-distance travel viable by EV is reliable and fast charging infrastructure
  • Apartment owners or renters feel like there is a disparity in how they are treated by landlords or carpark operators which creates an “us vs them” approach when grants or legislation preferences home owners with drives
  • People who travel tend to choose routes where chargers are more reliable and there are amenities available (food, coffee, toilets, rest spots, etc.)

We asked folks how long they spend queuing at chargers, and in order of votes we got the following result:

  • No time spent queuing (33%)
  • 10mins or less (25%)
  • More than 10mins (20%)
  • Other (22%)

A third of respondents do not experience queues at charging points

We prompted ‘other’ to solicit feedback on what people feel they do when at charging stations. Some of the answers included:

  • Cost of public infrastructure causes folks to avoid it
  • It really varies depending on the town
  • Several folks noted when there’s a queue they’ll leave & come back later
  • One or two folks have queued up to an hour when they were waiting on rural chargers while on a trip

Getting into our hypothesis of what people do when they do use chargers, we asked what the likelihood of spending money at nearby resources would be (out of 5), and got the following result:

  • 5 (always): 52%
  • 4: 20%
  • 3: 19%
  • 2: 5%
  • 1 (never): 4%

We then asked how much people tend to spend at nearby facilities (note that this does not include the cost of charging itself), and got the following results:

  • €6-10: 36%
  • €5 or less: 27%
  • €10-20: 23%
  • More than €20: 8%

For the remainder we asked how much they spend and got several responses, including:

  • Destination charger users at hotels, parks, etc. tend to spend upwards of €50
  • When staying at a hotel specifically, people spend more than €100 on food, drinks, etc. and book that hotel because of the charging infrastructure

Finally, we asked for any other feedback. And a lot of it ended up being positive notes about our newsletter and the work done at IEVOA, so we genuinely appreciate that! For the other comments, some worthy shout-outs included:

  • Demand is being judged on chargers unfairly because the pricing is too high at the minute
  • There’s little to no enforcement of ICEing on charging spaces, which creates a hostile environment
  • Car dealerships do a poor job of educating owners on when/where/how to charge and etiquette around it
  • Concerns around the future infrastructure and whether the grid has the capacity to handle a full island filled with EVs
  • EV ownership should go hand-in-hand with solar PV for charging sustainably and cheaply

Looking at the information and pinning it against our hypothesis, it seems that people do genuinely want more and better infrastructure to charge. But that’s for big trips for business, with family or visiting folks. Most want to rely on home-charging, and those who rent or who don’t have a driveway feel a carrot-and-stick approach from local authorities, the government and state bodies should step in to assist there with an eye to a near-term future where most cars are EVs.

Moreover, when folks polled need public infrastructure, they mostly route themselves through a charger location that has good amenities. And they spend money there. If you’re a forecourt, offering quality food & drink will get you more business from EV owners. Hotels, sports centres and similar should make it a priority to attract EV owners to destination chargers, because they’re spending a lot at those locations.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this survey. We’ll have more in the future. If you want to get involved and stay in the loop, become an Irish EV Owners Association Member. We would really appreciate the annual donation of €20 to help us run the association, but even free membership grants you access to our newsletter. And if you’re a business looking to IEVOA for representation, information or guidance, consider becoming one of our first corporate members.