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Transport / EV driver says he has ‘had enough’ of charger unreliability

A DRIVER says he has traded in his electric vehicle due to the unreliability of fast charge points in Shetland, as well as people parking in charge bays.

Barry Broadbent, who lives in Walls, said a key factor was “range anxiety” – a fear of running out of charge – when going on long trips around Shetland.

He also said he feared he could have been stuck in Unst on one occasion as other vehicles were parked in the charge point bays.

The 77-year-old bought a Honda E around two and a half years ago but said he has had enough.

He has now gone back to a hybrid using fuel but also a battery that does not require to be plugged in.

Electric vehicles are set to become increasingly common as the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be prohibited in the UK from 2030 to reduce emissions.

Shetland has a growing number of public electric vehicle chargers, from Unst to Sumburgh, and fees were introduced last month for the first time on council-run points.

After trading in his electric car, Broadbent said the range of his old vehicle – around 120 miles – was a primary consideration.

He said it was “perfect for doing short runs from Lerwick to Walls” – but longer trips were fraught with worry should a charging point be unavailable.

“We went up to Unst quite a few months back and went to the school where there is a charge point, albeit a slow charge point,” he said.

“And there’s two vehicles parked there in the charging bay. There’s ample places to park around the school, but they choose to use the two spaces reserved for electric vehicles. That doesn’t help.

“We managed to extract the person concerned and they removed it, but it could easily have been the other way around, and we could have easily been stranded.”

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The driver – who also charged at home – said return trips from Walls to Sumburgh, for example, also induced “range anxiety”.

Broadbent said there was one instance where the fast charge point at Sumburgh Airport was out of order, meaning he had to drive elsewhere and “sit for hours” on a slower charger.

“With all of these factors – I just thought, no, I’ve had enough,” he said.

“The anxiety and concerns when you’re going out for a day, and you want a really good full day, and you just can’t rely on the machines.”

But Lerwick councillor Gary Robinson, who is also an electric vehicle driver, said certain models of car offer greater range.

“Most EVs on the market now have at least a 40kWh battery which should be adequate in Shetland and batteries circa 60kWh are becoming the norm for all but high-end EVs,” he said.

“These typically give a range of over 200 miles, which should be enough to overcome range anxiety for all but the most nervous in Shetland.”

He said while home charging is cheaper than using public points and is becoming more common, the difficulty in getting smart meters to work is becoming a “significant issue”.

Meanwhile a report due to be presented to a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee next week says work is ongoing regarding an expansion strategy for public charge points.

It said consultancy firm Urban Foresight has completed the initial review and evaluation framework for potential future expansion of the public network.

With the council introducing fees for its public charge points, Lerwick Port Authority is now doing the same.

From 1 June it will cost 47p per kWh at its points, which is in line with the cost of topping up at the’s SIC non-rapid chargers.

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