Compared to other Europeans, the Dutch sometimes have different needs when it comes to charging electric cars. That is the outcome of a study on the preferences of Europeans with regard to charging of electric cars, conducted by the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) in the framework of the European research project Grid4Vehicles.
Consumers from eight different countries were asked to fill out an online questionnaire on how, where and under which conditions they would like to charge an electric car. The report on the results of this survey has been published today. One striking detail is the fact that, compared to the other Europeans, the Dutch would like to have more charging points for their electric cars. They also have higher demands with regard to the range of the electric car.
The questionnaire was distributed in eight countries by means of e-mails and website announcements. 220 of the 1,899 respondents who filled out the questionnaire came from the Netherlands. The others came from Portugal, Spain, Sweden, France, Germany, England and Italy. Together with the German and French respondents, the Dutch have indicated to be least interested in buying an electric car in the next two years (3.19 on a scale of 1 to 7, compared to 3.76 on average). The Dutch respondents also demand a higher range (389 km compared to 308 km on average) before they will decide to actually buy an electric car. The answers to the question about the preferred location for recharging one’s vehicle also show large differences among the countries. Although the majority of the respondents does have a parking place either at home or at work, and would prefer to charge their car there, the Dutch respondents have relatively less private parking space (55%) compared to the average of the countries that are mentioned (70%). It was indicated that it is cheaper to charge at a private parking place than at a public charging pole.
To prevent high peak demand in the electricity grid in the evening, respondents were asked if they would be interested in participating in a system that postpones the charging of the car to night time (ensuring a full battery in the morning). It was indicated that postponed charging at home would cost 2 euro for a full battery, compared to 3 euro otherwise. Although on average the interest was large (5.74 on a scale of 1 to 7), the Dutch are least interested in this system together with the Spanish (5.6 on a scale of 1 to 7). The interest of Dutch respondents to participate in a system that would discharge the battery of the electric car at times of high electricity demand peaks, and recharge it later, the so-called vehicle-to-grid (V2G), was a bit lower (4.2 on a scale of 1 to 7) compared to other countries (4.4. on average on the same scale). Even when the battery is leased instead of bought along with the car, the interest in V2G remains low.
Further research is needed
Although further research is needed on the preferences and wishes of future users of electric cars, this study already shows that there is a large chance that differences will arise in the charging behaviour of users of electric cars in various countries in Europe. Due to these differences, the electricity grids in the various countries will need to be adjusted to the users in different ways. Moreover, the charging infrastructure (locations of the charging poles) will be different per country and possibly also per region. The collected data for the Netherlands show for example that there is a larger demand for public charging points compared to other countries.
Both in the Netherlands and abroad, electric transportation is stimulated by government and industry. Much research is dedicated to electric cars. A large part of this research focuses on the technical aspects of the vehicles such as the electric motor, the batteries, the plugs and the charging equipment. Up to now, less attention was paid to the wishes and preferences of the future user of the electric car, whereas the large-scale use and particularly the charging of the electric car will have a large impact on the electricity grid.
In the European project Grid4Vehicles (www.g4v.eu) electricity companies from all over Europe are working together to map the effects of the large-scale use of electric cars on the grid and to examine to what extent, how and where the grid needs to be adjusted in the short and longer term. The ECN study on preferences of potential users of electric cars will be included in the analyses of the effects on the electricity grid.