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Charge points at work may be key to broader electric vehicle adoption

Promo image Ford

There are many ways to support wider electric vehicle adoption. But one of the simplest, and most powerful, may be encouraging employers to install charging at work. Business Green reports, for example, on the experience of National Grid in the UK, which saw a large increase in the number of staff using electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles after it installed 6 charge points at its headquarters:

"Since the eVolt charging infrastructure was installed, the number of company car PHEVs has risen from 177 to 375, and we have seen an increase in the number of fully electric vehicles," said Darren Watson, environmental operations advisor for National Grid’s Sustainability and Climate Change team. "The chargers’ take up has been rapid and exponential, and we are forecasting further rises as the business continues to support the adoption of EVs, and our employees continue to select them as a credible alternative to traditional petrol or diesel engines."

Of course, convenience and the reduction of range anxiety are—most likely—major factors in this increased adoption of plug-in vehicles. After all, many UK drivers may not have off-street parking in which to charge, and the current crop of electric vehicles probably leaves other drivers nervous about a full round-trip commute without an option to charge at work. The reporting doesn’t say whether drivers were expected to pay for a charge, but if use of these charge points is complementary, that adds up to a pretty nice workplace perk too.

But I suspect another factor may be at play too: And that’s the simple but powerful force of peer influence. After all, people like to talk at work. And I know from experience that owning an EV tends to make one an advocate. If people see their colleagues—folks they know and trust—using electric vehicles, they are likely to ask about their experiences and become more informed. And I can think of few better ways to encourage wider adoption than to get people talking about the overall superior experience of ditching gasoline.

I’d be interested to know how workplaces navigate the etiquette of EV charging, but I suspect the fact that folks are (typically) at work all day, that they know their colleagues, and that they have existing infrastructure to communicate with them, means that coordinating charges with their colleagues is considerably easier than in an open public parking lot.

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