This January we conducted our first survey of EV drivers in Northern Ireland. We received an excellent response with 204 replies – thanks to everyone that took part. This number means that we now have representative information to use when pushing forward with our lobbying for EVs in NI.
The focus of this survey was charging and the headlines will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the state of the network here. It’s clear that EV owners have had enough of warm words and are impatient for actual improvement.
- More than half of EV drivers (58%) have considered returning to fossil fuel – that figure jumps to 65% when we look at new EV drivers (less than 2 years of ownership). This is perhaps the most damning statistic to come out of our survey. Unless action is taken very soon, EV infrastructure will be so unfit for purpose and public perception so damaged that the government’s proposed 2030 ban on ICE cars will not be possible here.
- 87% have a charger at home – Even with so many chargers at homes, drivers with small battery cars or those with long commutes are still in trouble because they need access to the charging network, which is in dire straits. Only 4% of respondents live in houses with no off street parking – compared to a UK average of around 40%. This probably shows drivers in these homes are being excluded from EV ownership due to the lack of chargers.
- 96% of NI EV Drivers have used the Public Network. 33% say they are ‘Dependent’ on it – this is a network that currently receives not a single penny of support from any public body, and is maintained (barely) for free by ESB yet 3 in 10 EV drivers here are dependant on it.
- 83% say it’s difficult or very difficult to find a working charger – EV chargers are critical infrastructure and should be treated as such. Imagine if you couldn’t find a working petrol pump for your ICE car!
- 88% say the network has got worse – With 61% saying much worse. We had a world-leading network when it was installed 10 years ago but we squandered that lead. Now we have a network of unsupported and obsolete chargers, run as a charity case by ESB.
- 95% do not believe our network is fit for purpose – A damning indictment of what is supposed to be the future of transport.
- 70% cannot charge at work – Employers have access to grants for installation of charge points, and there are tax benefits, particularly for operators of company cars – not to mention the obvious environmental benefits.
- The most important issue to EV drivers in NI is the availability of public chargers – followed by faults in the public charging network
- 38% of EV respondents drive 10,000 – 15,000 Miles per Annum – this was the most popular answer to distance travelled.
- Top 3 regions for EV driver numbers were – 1. Ards & North Down 2. Belfast 3. Lisburn & Castlereagh
- Bottom 3 regions for EV driver numbers were – 1. Derry & Strabane, 2. Mid Ulster, 3. Fermanagh / Omagh
Where do you want new chargers?
We asked where the biggest need was for investment in the network. We had a lot of answers to this one but a few came up again and again:
- Rapid chargers (particularly CCS) on motorways/arterial routes
- Petrol stations
- Tourist attractions
- West of Dungannon (particularly Omagh and Derry/Londonderry)
- The North coast
- Medium sized towns (Ballynahinch, Irvinestown, N’ards, Ballycastle etc.)
What other issues are most important to you as an EV driver in NI?
Finally, we asked NI EV drivers what other issues were important to them. Here is a snapshot of some of the issues that came up:
- A lot of people are happy to pay for charging if the network is functional
- “Lack of infrastructure is forcing the continued use of fossil fuel powered transport”
- Concerns about disabled access to public chargers
- “The fact that I cannot recommend an EV to any of my friends when they ask, solely on the fact that we have a terrible, virtually non-existent charging network. I have given up using the network and instead, use my wife’s ice car for any journey outside the range of my EV.”
- Concerns about access to charging for those without off-street parking
- A desire for flexible electricity tariffs similar to Octopus Energy in GB for EV owners
- “The sheer lack of interest or willingness to do anything to support EV drivers in NI by MLA’s at Stormont”
- The [lack of] knowledge and understanding of car dealers about EVs
- Reliable, available charging is by far the most important issue that’s needing URGENT attention. The rest are very minor in comparison