Government unveils charging plans to put EVs in driving seat

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced plans to increase the convenience and availability of electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints, as part of an overarching ambition to make nearly all new cars and vans zero-emission by 2040.

The roll-out of charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure will be supported by the Modern Transport Bill, which is subject to public consultation in the upcoming month.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are committed to making transport cleaner and giving even more drivers the option of using a low emission vehicle as we strive to improve air quality across the country.

“Our ambition is for nearly all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040, and we are taking real steps to achieve this in the Modern Transport Bill. We now want to hear the views of businesses and the wider public.”

Revving up support

The DfT’s proposed measures include plans to set common standards for all public charge points to ensure EV owners can easily recharge; make information about the location of charging stations more accessible to the public; support smart EV charging that is flexible to the grid; and make consumer pricing for electricity and hydrogen fuels consistent and transparent.

The Modern Transport Bill consultation on measures for low-emission vehicle infrastructure will focus specifically on the provision of infrastructure, smart charging, and the consumer experience of infrastructure. The consultation will last for four weeks, and closes on 23 November. The bill, set to be laid in Parliament next year, will outline the role of technology and innovation in delivering the safe, efficient and low-carbon transportation in the UK.

The DfT’s announcement follows the Government’s decision earlier this week to open up a £4m avenue for businesses to switch their large trucks and vans to electric models through the Plug-In Van grant.

Stalled progress

The UK’s ongoing transition to EVs has seen the number of new registered ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) rise by 250% in just two years, with more than £600m pledged so far over this Parliament to boost the market.

The UK sells the second highest level of EVs in the European Union (EU), while around 11,000 public chargepoints are currently spread across the country.

However, the UK has been warned it will miss crucial 2020 transport targets and significantly damage its global reputation as a climate leader unless “major policy improvements” are rapidly enforced in the sector.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) recently concluded that the DfT must commit to a long-term green vehicle strategy through an increase in the uptake of ULEVs to achieve national decarbonisation targets.

George Ogleby

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