Jeremy Clarkson (front man for popular UK TV programme Top Gear) is not going to like this article, but I hope it will appeal to those who share a positive view of the future of road transport – particularly those of us who run airports and car parking operations.

I am a great fan of cars. The promised public transport infrastructure in many European countries has not materialised, and is unlikely to. Public transport has always been inconvenient, and never provides transport when needed.

I recently went to Hull from Leicester by train; it cost me more than it did to fly to Europe or Africa, and took almost as long. That’s the good news for airports – we offer fast, good value transportation most of the time.

As consumers we continue to pour petrol – the only fuel alternative for many of us – into our vehicles. Yet fuel costs are forcing many cars off the roads, and significantly affecting parking revenue as airport passengers consider – and take – the alternatives.

So here is an even bigger wake-up call.

Encouragingly, of the 28 million cars on our roads in the UK alone (representing 82% of road users), there are already 2,000 electric cars in operation and 4,000 LGVs. It is predicted that these numbers will grow to 2.6 million by 2020 and 6 million by 2030.

Taking into account plug-in/hybrid vehicles, the numbers raise to 15 million by 2030.

If only 5% of us switch to electricity, there will be a requirement for 250,000 roadside charging points (one for every 20 cars), 625,000 domestic points and 40,000 points for LGVs.

Chris Wortley Ltd
Car Parking & Pre Booking Consultants
Specialising in the Airport environment
Tel: +44 (0)7759 436 165

These charging points do not come cheaply and would cost £795 million to install based on projected volumes. So as we plan for passenger growth and more car park spaces, we have another cost for airports.

There have been some recent initiatives to help with funding:
• The Department for Trade has announced a £250 million stimulus
• London Electric Vehicle Partnership is providing 25,000 stations.


Currently there are five key players in this area that provide and install charging points and we are starting to see the first generation of chargers being installed. During the next five years the market is likely to explode, with more suppliers bringing greater sophistication.

Like the telecom market, the second and third generation chargers will be capable not only of handling billing and payments, but also of interfacing with car parking payment technology. For example, paying for parking with your mobile phone: one of today’s most advanced forms of technology is likely to be replaced by charging technology – it charges your car for your parking, and then bills you.

Car park operating equipment will be in a different format and costs will reduce in this area, which is a positive move, especially as the average multi-storey car park costs over £1 million in parking equipment installation.


The cost to airports of providing charging points will be large, particularly those with many car park sites and particularly those that are in more remote locations.

However there is always a “˜value add’, and we could provide this by installing charging points now in our premium car parks or valet areas and I am sure there will be a PR benefit from being the airport that has not only thought about it but done it.

For those of us like Jeremy who will never part with their EVO then maybe it’s time to think again. Car manufacturers are now developing across the range of vehicles from two-seater town cars to SUVs and sports cars that will embrace this technology. Mr Clarkson, a good reason for you to reconsider? Perhaps.

Download free from the iTunes App Store