Free EV charging stations – Are they holding back the EV market?


Are free electric car charging stations holding back the market?

Over the last few days we have seen the introduction of a new report into electric car charging stations around the world which suggests there could be as many as 10.7 million by the year 2020.
This survey, carried out by IHS Automotive, suggests there could be a tenfold increase in the number of electric car charging stations around the world which could literally kickstart the electric car industry. However, are free electric car charging stations currently holding back the market?

This may seem something of a bizarre statement when we are all looking for incentives for electric car use and to create a larger electric car market. So why would free electric car charging stations be having a negative impact?

Government and local authority services

signature-electric-ev-charger-installationWhether you’re in Canada, the USA, Europe, the Far East or anywhere in the world, you are likely to pay for any government or local authority services. There are sometimes new services which are often available free of charge in the very early days but very quickly they will turn into income streams for federal government and local authorities. So why should we be paying for electric car charging services?

The simple fact is that governments around the world, and indeed local authorities, do not have the infrastructure and the expertise to create a complete network of free electric charging points which will cover the whole country. They may well cover certain areas in certain cities but in reality this is of no assistance to the long-term game of increasing electric car use as motorists will need confidence that wherever they go there will be services available.

Commercial Car Charging Stations

Unless there is a commercial reason to introduce car charging stations and there is indeed a definitive return on investment why would any commercial car charging company invest its hard earned cash? The reality is that each commercial car charging station will create a long-term return on investment which can then be used to fund other charging stations, more charging stations, etc. Once the ball is rolling and commercial car charging companies see a return on their investment they will then be able to fund some of the less profitable areas such as smaller cities, villages and countryside venues.

Inner-city charging stations  signature-electric-ev-charger

A number of electric car enthusiasts have been discussing the idea of making inner-city roads electric car only thereby effectively banning gasoline vehicles. This may seem to be a little harsh on motorist driving gasoline vehicles but if you take a step back and look at the situation from a distance, what would it encourage?

If you were only able to use electric vehicles in city centres this would certainly improve the take-up of electric vehicles amongst consumers and amongst businesses. If this use was initially centralised in specific areas then commercial car charging station companies would see an increase in usage in these particular areas and a definitive return on investment. In time this would create dense electric car charging station networks in larger cities which could then be rolled out, using the return on inner-city investments, to towns, villages, etc allowing companies to effectively “join the dots” and create nationwide charging stations.


While there’s nothing wrong with local authorities offering free charging facilities in the short term, to increase electric car usage, the fact is this could have a detrimental impact upon the commercial sector in the long term. Electric car users must realise they will eventually need to pay to have their car batteries recharged, even if this is just a fraction of the cost of gasoline, because in order for commercial operations to emerge there must be some kind of incentive.

Subsidizing the cost and installation of electric car charging stations in the short term, via use of taxpayer money in the private sector, could be a short-term option although again it must be handled with care and the ability to transfer this to a payment service in due course is vital. As they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch!


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