Survey shows 83% of EV drivers rely on electric car for essential travel

A survey by Zap-Map and the REA has found that EVs and the public charging network are vital for essential travel and keeping 'key workers' on the move during the COVID-19 pandemic.

83% EV users still reliant on their EV for essential travel and almost a quarter identify as 'key workers'

With more than 3,000 EV drivers responding, the survey found that, despite EV use falling significantly in line with the overall reduction in travel, 83% of users are still reliant on their EV for essential travel.

Of these, just under a quarter (24%) identify as key workers with the majority of these (36%) working in healthcare with others working across a range of sectors including utilities, food delivery, transport, public safety and education.

EV survery - key workers

The drivers surveyed were using their EVs for a range of different essential travel tasks, with key workers more likely to be using their vehicle for work-related travel, whilst other essential travel such as shopping, delivering medical supplies and helping vulnerable people was also prevalent.

EV survery - travel

Almost three in ten are still using the public charging network

Amongst those surveyed, 29% are still using the public and manufacturer-owned charging network. This number increases when looking at key workers, with just under half (47%) reliant on the public charging network. Although this is a reduction in the pre-COVID proportion of usage (which is more than 90%), it demonstrates how important the charging infrastructure continues to be for many EV drivers.

EV survery - usage

98% of the public charging infrastructure is operating as normal although there is an increase on normal reporting rates of issues

Whilst the vast majority of those surveyed were satisfied with the public and manufacturer-owned network, 21% of users reported experiencing some issues, an increase on normal reporting rates. This number increased to 28% amongst key workers, most likely due to this group utilising the infrastructure more frequently. The two key lockdown-related issues cited are either delays to chargers being repaired and inaccessibility of charge points where a site has been closed or is now behind a barrier.

EV survery - issues

Temporarily inaccessible chargers have been highlighted on Zap-Map

Zap-Map has also been working closely with the network operators and incorporating direct feedback from EV drivers to identify and highlight the chargers clearly on the map. As it stands, 430 charging points, out of a total of over 18,000 across the UK (2%), have been identified as temporarily non-accessible due to lockdown measures.

EV survery - Zap-Map information

In light of the issues identified in the survey, the REA has contacted the Government asking them to classifying public and manufacturer-owned EV charging maintenance personnel as key workers. The REA and Zap-Map are also working with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to fully understand issues relating to site accessibility.

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE FEI, Chief Executive of the REA said: "The data shows just how robust and reliable EVs and the public and manufacturer-owned charging networks are, even in the midst of a global pandemic. This is testament to the hard work and commitment of the industry who keep the networks running.

"With the lockdown set to continue it is important that the public has access to publicly owned and operational charge points. We are committed to working with OLEV to ensure any problems are identified as quickly as possible."

Dr. Ben Lane, CTO and Joint MD of Zap-Map: "EVs and the public charging infrastructure are playing a fundamental role during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing many users to fulfil essential travel needs and keeping key workers across a wide range of roles on the road.

"Zap-Map continues to work hard to provide up to date information for EV drivers on public charging points across the UK, including highlighting COVID related issues as reported by users and network operators"

About the survey

The survey was conducted between 31st March and 2nd April by the UK’s leading charging resource Zap-Map and the UK’s largest renewable energy and clean technologies trade association the REA. Sample was sourced from Zap-Map registered users and sector distribution via REA. Zap-Map sample recruited from opt-in database with 3,189 completed surveys screened for EV use or ownership.

Follow latest updates on impact of coronavirus on EV charging

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:28th Apr 2020

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