The network of publicly accessible charging points in Europe continues to expand. For drivers of electric cars, the issue is no longer wondering if they will be able to recharge their batteries, but simply determining which charging station is best suited to their needs.
Studies of usage have determined that during the week, individuals tend to charge their cars via a charging point installed at home or at their place of work. This makes sense, as those are the places where cars are generally parked for the longest period of time, yet this fact does not exclude the possibility of using the charging infrastructure encountered along commonly frequented routes.
When driving electric, every stop becomes an opportunity to recharge your car’s battery. A visit to the supermarket, a stop at a motorway rest area, a film screening or dinner in town are all opportunities to take advantage of public electric infrastructure, whether it’s for a simple top-up or an essential step in your holiday itinerary.
How can you recharge your car on a longer journey? It is simply a matter of finding a charging point that is compatible with your electric car, whether in terms of the connector type or the amount of power offered. You’ll have your pick among the 130,000 public charging points available in Europe!
There isn’t a lack of tools to help you. Several projects in line with the open data movement are in fact compiling lists of the public charging points across Europe. Some are centrally managed by local and regional authorities or players from the energy sector that are involved in the deployment of this infrastructure. Others take the form of collaborative maps, expanded and updated by the drivers of the areas they cover.
All are as easily accessible from a computer as from a smartphone, often through a dedicated mobile application. Each charging point is identified with all of its specifications, thanks to a profile that summarises the number of terminals available, the connector type, the means of access and the pricing. Drivers can thus precisely identify the length of time and the price of charging.
Another even more practical solution is to integrate recharging directly into your itinerary, which is what the My Renault application will allow you to do, starting at the beginning of 2019. It will notably include the features and functionality of Z.E. Trip, the tool that is part of the R-Link on-board navigation system and already allows you to easily select a charging point compatible with your car while limiting the necessary detours as much as possible.
Eventually, it will also include the Z.E. Pass service that simplifies access to charging and payment by providing them directly through your smartphone, bypassing the need for several access passes or membership cards.
What about everyday trips that aren’t planned ahead? Every stop along the way can be put to use. The list of locations amenable to charging includes shopping centres and superstores, which have set up charging points to entice customers. Car park managers are also installing charging points, often making them available at preferential rates as a complementary offer for paying the parking fee.
Railway stations, airports and other transportation hubs often have charging points, as do service stations that aim to make charging a commercial alternative to filling up with petrol. Finally, some cities allow drivers to benefit from infrastructure initially designed for carsharing services: such is the case in France, for example, where the city of Paris has, since December, offered an annual subscription option to individuals who would like to recharge their car at the stations previously dedicated to the Autolib’ service. It’s a good way to cover the installation costs of a charging point.
Spontaneous initiatives have also given rise to community-based alternatives to the large charging networks. In England, a community of Renault ZOE enthusiasts have created a map of all the members willing to help out an electric car in need of a charge. The majority have a wallbox furnished with a « type 2 » connector, perfect for recovering a few dozen kilometres of range in the time it takes to enjoy a cup of tea.
Copyrights: Jean-Brice LEMAL, PLANIMONTEUR, iStock, Renault Marketing 3D-Commerce, Olivier MARTIN-GAMBIER