A necessary corollary to electric mobility, electric car charging points are becoming more and more common: you find them everywhere, in people’s homes of course, but also on the street, in car parks or motorway rest areas. So what electric car charging point should be your go-to, and how can you make the most of it? Read on to discover the possibilities.
Where can you recharge your electric car and how? From domestic electric car charging points to stations installed in supermarket car parks, drivers today have access to an expansive dedicated infrastructure. Each of its components has its own advantages in terms of cost, speed or accessibility.
The best time to recharge your electric car is when you’re not using it! Many drivers therefore prefer charging at home at night, so as to have a battery that’s ready to go in the morning. In theory, a simple grounded socket is all you need, but the lack of specialized equipment limits the power of the current delivered to a significant degree, resulting in longer charging times.
An examination of the different home charging options available highlights the utility of a dedicated wall-mounted charging point, known as a wallbox. This domestic electric car charging point is connected to the electrical board via a circuit exclusively devoted to that purpose, which is capable of withstanding higher currents and plugs into the car via a Type 2 connector. It includes components that are able to control charging by, for example, prioritising off-peak hours, in keeping with the principles of smart charging.
Its electronics are designed to limit the energy that is lost to heat. The wallbox also incorporates surge protection mechanisms to guarantee the safety of a home and its occupants.
In the case of shared parking, either in a block of flats or residence, prior approval of the co-ownership syndicate is necessary.
It is often a simple formality: some countries like France provide for a « right to a socket » that gives co-owners authorisation to install an electric car charging point as long as they bear the financial cost.
Investing in the installation of a domestic electric car charging point often makes you eligible for public aid in the form of a tax credit or subsidy. Such is the case, for example, in France, in England and in certain cities in the Netherlands.
If you don’t have an electric car charging point at home, it is sometimes possible to take advantage of resources offered by your employer. More and more companies are indeed equipping their cark parks with electric car charging points dedicated either to their company cars or the personal vehicles of their employees. Subsidies in the form of tax incentives provide encouragement in most European countries, sometimes with the amounts being quite significant. That’s good news for employees, who can benefit from free recharging while they are working!
The new directive on the energy performance of buildings approved in June 2018 by the European Parliament provides for all new non-residential buildings with more than ten parking spaces to have at least one electric vehicle charging point.
At the European level, cities and local authorities are supporting the development of electric mobility by investing in public charging infrastructure. These electric car charging points usually go hand-in-hand with parking spaces reserved for electric vehicles.
Due to their public nature, these electric car charging points can be used by any driver and offer attractive charging rates.
Though before connecting, it is still wise to check the type of socket offered by the charging point.
Public charging networks are multiplying, especially in large European cities that have « restricted traffic zones » dedicated to vehicles with the lowest emissions. In the areas surrounding cities, the private sector comes in: shopping centres have also understood the value of offering their customers charging points!
Hypermarkets and specialty stores make it a pitch to attract and retain their electric car driving customers, who enjoy fast and free charging while doing their shopping. The mechanism is so efficient that these charging stations sometimes become meeting points for aficionados of electric mobility. A service like Z.E. Pass lets you avoid the need for any access pass that may be required by the operator of the charging point.
Cark park owners also use the installation of electric car charging points as a loss leader for their parking plans. Electric cars benefit from reserved spaces, accompanied by charging services at preferential rates. At the Zurich airport, if you reserve your parking space in advance online, you can recharge your car at no additional cost, using one of the « Park & Charge » zone’s 38 charging points.
In the event of an extended stop for a meal or the night, you can also use electric car charging points available at a growing number of hotels and restaurants.
For travel between cities, electric enthusiasts finally have access to charging points located at the rest stops and service stations along trunk roads or motorways. These electric car charging points are most often managed by consortia that bring together car manufactures, public authorities and players from the energy sector. They generally offer a high power output and have thus become synonymous with fast charging for motorists eager to resume their journey. The cost is generally calculated by time spent charging or the amount of power consumed.
Some networks operate on a national scale, like Corri-door in France or EnBW in Germany. Others have more global ambitions.
The E-VIA FLEX-E project, for example, aims to position high-powered electric car charging points along the major road corridors of Southern Europe. A mobile application like Renault Z.E. Pass simplifies charging by letting you pay directly from your mobile phone when using different charging networks without needing to have an access pass or specific subscription. When the need arises, there are several ways to find out where and how to find public electric car charging points.
Copyrights: Anthony BERNIER, iStock, Arnaud TAQUET, PRODIGIOUS Production
Cities & planning