Driving for Sustainability with Electric Vehicles

Driving for Sustainability with Electric Vehicles written by Ari Bissoondial, Katy Hartmann, Sage Ortega-Shue, Jolie Walts and edited by Heather Sykes. Graphic by Ira Spiridonova.

Indra Blue Logo

The UK has set some aims to work on improving sustainability in the country. One goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 to cut down the effects of climate change. At the moment, the transport sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) make up a large part of the emissions from the sector. It is a problem for Britain and the rest of the world, therefore we need to find a solution.

Due to their lower output of emissions, electric vehicles (EVs) are a sustainable substitute for ICEs. However, there are drawbacks that put off potential buyers. One main issue is the lack of charging points for electric vehicles.

Planning The Route For Sustainability With Electric Vehicles

The goal of this student-led research project was to make a framework for local governments and organizations to use. They worked with the local company Indra Renewable Technologies which design and manufacture EV chargers. The research investigated ways to improve the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in Worcester. The aims included:

  • Log the transport options for people in Worcester
  • Log transport routes and methods used by people in Worcester
  • Find the barriers and incentives to buying electric vehicles

The methods for this project included mapping, surveys, interviews, as well as the development of a rubric.

A map was made showing the public transport and public electric vehicle charger points put on it. Also, a knowledge survey about EVs was shared. The aim of the survey was to find out how people travel and what barriers people face with electric vehicles.

Charging Up Electric Vehicles

The GIS map found just three charging points in the city of Worcester, in WR1. More research found more bad news. Only seven of the twelve chargers were ready for use. This is not great, as it, therefore, makes it harder for owners to use their cars in the city. So, sadly, the easy option for transport in and through Worcester is still to use ICEs.

The 45-54 age group were the ones who filled out the survey most. It was also this group that was the most likely to buy an electric vehicle. This is due to the cost barrier.

Data from the survey also showed that those with no off-street parking were less likely to buy electric vehicles. The survey showed that those aged 18-25 are in the age group that is less likely to have off-street parking, and are, therefore, least likely to buy electric vehicles.

Interviews also gained more data about the barriers. This found that those who own electric vehicles have their own chargers at home, but they agreed that it was hard to find some that work in public places.

Sustainable Solutions

Developing a Rubric:

There is a rubric to help assess the implementation status of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in urban areas. It was made to be used in all urban areas. The charging framework assessment rubric is made up of these points:

  • Charging access
  • Public charging speed
  • Smart charging policy
  • Public charging manners
  • Maintenance and upkeep
  • Recommendations to Reduce Barriers to an electric vehicle switch

Below are the ways in which if followed, a change could be made in Worcester:

  • Have charging network operators maintain existing and future chargers.
  • Install public EV chargers with an understanding of the time spent at the site and the ease of access.
  • Continue to make and use smart charging policies that aid the switch to electric vehicles over ICEs.
  • Raise Government subsidies for electric vehicle purchases.
  • Put in street chargers for areas with no off-street parking.
  • Persuade owners to only spend the required time at public chargers.

If some of these steps are taken, Worcester could be on the road to a more sustainable future. Electric vehicles are quickly proving to be an excellent option for those wanting to travel green. These steps can also help to make electric vehicles accessible for more people. If you want to learn more about how to overcome barriers to sustainable travel, read here.

Watch a video of the students presenting their research

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