Is the new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy ambitious enough?

Following the Government's commitment for a tenfold increase in public electric vehicle (EV) charging points by 2030, edie rounds up the reactions from the UK's green economy and automotive sector.

Is the new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy ambitious enough?

While the Strategy's main commitments have been welcomed

The Department for Transport (DfT) has today (25 March) published the much-awaited Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy. Building on the commitment made under the 2020 Ten-Point Plan for the Green Industrial Revolution, for £1.3bn of Government funding for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, the Strategy outlines how £1.6bn of funding will be spent.

£950m will be made available through the Rapid Charging Fund, to install rapid charging points across England’s motorway network through to 2035.

A further £500m is being used to deliver a  Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund (LEVI), under which local authorities will be able to bid for funding to install charging hubs and on-street charging points. 

Also detailed in the Strategy are timelines for the introduction of new mandates for charging point operators, designed to increase reliability, improve accessibility and keep costs for customers down.

Additionally published by the DfT today is a new ‘automotive roadmap’. This document lists all of the Government’s policies on low-carbon road transport in one place and showcases examples of best practice from across the UK’s public and private sectors. Transport has been the UK’s most-emitting sector since 2016 and is, therefore, a key challenge on the road to net-zero.

Since announcing the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales, the Government has been urged, time and again, to make sure that charging infrastructure is ready to meet the scale and pace of the transition. Local councils, motoring groups and environmental groups have all warned that EV uptake has continued to outpace charging point installations – and that there is currently an uneven distribution of charging infrastructure across the UK, creating a “postcode lottery”.

With this in mind, the Strategy is broadly being welcomed. But some groups are questioning whether its targets are ambitious enough and whether funding is being allocated in the most effective way.

Here, edie rounds up the reaction to the new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy.

National Grid’s head of future markets Graeme Cooper: “Getting the right charging infrastructure in place by 2030 is one of the essential steps that will encourage consumers and businesses to move to EVs; research shows that once people feel confident there’s a viable network of charging points in places they need them, they’ll be encouraged to make the switch.

“We welcome the Government’s EV Infrastructure Strategy, which sets out a mosaic of charging solutions, helps provide confidence and certainty, and enables government, industry and networks to shift from planning the EV transition to rapid action and delivery.

“Project Rapid is an important part of this strategy and will be key to achieving Government ambitions to decarbonise road transport. We now need to see action that makes the best use of the available funding, and collaboration between transport and energy networks to deliver the most efficient network solution.

“Establishing the Delivery Body to deploy the Rapid Charging Fund is the next key step. And we can’t just focus on cars and vans. There needs to be a holistic approach across the whole transport system – we need to see a plan in place for the deployment of charging infrastructure that will support the decarbonisation across road, rail aviation and maritime as well. For example, the scope of Project Rapid could be expanded to encompass these forms of transport.

“Both distribution and transmission network owners have a critical role to play in this transition, and we’ll be working closely with government, industry and regional networks to map out where critical grid capacity is needed. National Grid is ready to move at speed to put the right wires in the right place to futureproof the network for all road transport.”

The AA’s president Edmund King: “As we advance quickly to the 2030 deadline for new zero-emission vehicles, it is vital that we get our charging infrastructure in order. While great progress has been made, there is still much to do to convince drivers on the number, and importantly reliability, of charge posts.

“To bring confidence and power to potential electric car drivers we need more, and more reliable and accessible charge points as soon as possible.”

The National Infrastructure Commission’s chairman Sir John Armitt: “We need to turbo-charge the roll out of electric vehicle charging points, accelerating the installation of both rapid and on-street charging facilities so that the 2030 date for the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars remains viable.”

The RAC’s head of policy Nicholas Lyes: “We are concerned that this is not going to be sufficient with drivers looking to switch to an electric vehicle en masse ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

“Many current and would-be EV drivers worry that charging units will be out of order when they arrive to charge their vehicles, so it is vitally important this is addressed.”

The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology’s (REA) transport policy manager Jacob Roberts: “The REA strongly supports the Government’s commitment to delivering a world-leading EV charging infrastructure network that meets the needs of all EV users.

“By 2030, the Government expects around 300,000 public chargepoints will be needed to enable the transition to EVs – and we believe that this can be achieved, with this rapidly expanding industry having delivered 37% growth in chargepoint numbers in the last year alone.

“This growth can only be maintained, however, if investment can be mobilised at pace. We welcome the Government providing funding to overcome market failures and speed up local rollout of EV chargepoints, whilst allowing room for continued private investment to grow the UK’s public EV charging network. The Government’s next step should now be to remove the practical and administrative barriers which too often delay new chargepoint projects.

“The REA and its members are already committed to providing an excellent consumer experience, and therefore we welcome the consumer regulations also announced today. These regulations set the standards operators are expected to meet and will improve the overall charging experience. We are particularly pleased that the regulations include requirements for interoperability and roaming – something the REA has long argued for.”

A UK100 spokesperson:” We welcome the new funding which will enable local authorities to deliver EV charging points for their area. But this needs to be done in a way that ensures wide coverage of charging infrastructure across the UK – to redress the current geographic imbalance in provision.

“Competitive bidding for the fund means that the money won’t necessarily be spent where it’s most needed – in the areas with the lowest existing numbers of charging points. Additionally, every local and regional authority should be included in designing and shaping the charging infrastructure across its area

“We also advocate that the high costs of connecting EV charging networks to the grid should be reduced to enable a seamless EV charging network across the UK.“

The County Councils Network’s climate change spokesperson Cllr Sam Corcoran: “England’s counties are lagging far behind the largest cities when it comes to publicly-available electric vehicle charging points, with the County Councils Network’s analysis showing that drivers in county areas have one charging point for every 16 miles, compared to one every mile in London. This makes it difficult for county drivers to switch to electric, leaving behind county areas and impacting on the country’s net-zero ambitions.  

“Therefore, it is vital that the funding announced today to boost public charge points is prioritised towards county areas so they can offer the same level of infrastructure to help drivers make the switch to electric as the major cities. The commitments today could create a step-change in the usage of electric vehicles, but it is imperative that all four corners of England have good access to charge points.

“A total of £1.6bn for electric vehicle infrastructure is a significant sum, but the Government should keep this figure under review. Net-zero cannot be delivered on a shoestring.”

Kalibrate’s chief executive Oliver Shaw: “It’s encouraging to see the commitment from the Government to heavily increase EV chargers by 2030. Currently, 57% of EV drivers get nervous about running out of charge, so this is a crucial step in boosting the adoption of EVs among consumers and addressing the range anxiety challenge.

“However, there remain concerns about whether this boost in charger numbers is going to effectively cater for growing demand.

“For the investment to actually make a difference to the lives of the EV drivers of today and tomorrow, both government and businesses first need to understand where demand is coming from, which types of locations are lacking in infrastructure, and how EV drivers will behave in the future. Without the right data and analytics on location, demographics, and driver behaviour, we’ll be starting a journey without a solid roadmap. The net result could be wasted investment and an ineffective charging network. The opportunity to get this right is enormous, but only if we’re making informed decisions based on robust data and insights.”

Octopus Electric Vehicles’ chief executive Fiona Howarth: “It’s great to see support for a broad range of reliable charging – from high-speed, convenient rapids for topping up on longer journeys; to affordable local charging for regular use.

“The reality is that most people won’t use rapid chargers often – alternatively using home, workplace, kerbside and community charging that cost as little as £5 to fill up, instead of up to £40 at a rapid. But having an increasing base of reliable rapid chargers will continue to build confidence and encourage more people to make the switch to clean, green driving.”

Bonnet co-founder and chief executive Patrick Reich: “It’s positive to see the long-awaited EV Infrastructure Strategy finally launched after months of delays. The Government appears to be waking up to the many EV charging hurdles drivers face around access, charging anxiety, and reliability that have gone unaddressed for years.

“While we’re pleased to see a new focus on support for drivers without private driveways, the Government needs to allocate more funding and implement ambitious targets if it is to meet its aims of encouraging people to switch to EVs.

“Industry is working hard to limit charging blackspots, reduce charge anxiety and provide simpler models for drivers to pay for charging their car, but ultimately volume is the immovable challenge we need the Government to address.”

DevicePilot’s co-founder and chief executive Pilgrim Beart: “A tenfold increase in electric charge points is a start, but the UK is still deeply divided between the EV haves and have-nots. There needs to be a more even distribution of EV funding across the nation since many local councils are yet to receive a penny from the Government, while others are flush for EV investment.

“There’s also a big major issue, since many potential EV buyers are still yet to be convinced that it’s a seamless experience. First and foremost, chargers need to work. They need to provide the same experience as the petrol pumps, but they are too often malfunctioning, occupied or in need of repair. We  need investment in the quality of the UK’s EV infrastructure, not just its quantity.”

Addison Lee’s chief executive Liam Griffin: “Since November 2021, Addison Lee has added 450 fully electric vehicles to our London fleet and, to date, it is evident that the number one issue facing drivers is the charging of their vehicles. 

“In a recent survey, 65% of Addison Lee partner drivers highlighted availability as the biggest concern when trying to charge their EVs, while 80% spent more than 15 minutes trying to locate a rapid charger. And with the majority of London drivers not having access to off-street parking, an affordable and accessible EV charging network is essential to give drivers the confidence to switch to electric ahead of the Government’s 2030 deadline. 

“As we continue our transition, it is increasingly clear that the UK as a whole needs greater urgency in the rollout of our EV infrastructure network.”

The business guide to fleet electrification 

edie has this week published a new business guide detailing everything you need to know about integrating electric vehicles (EVs) into your organisation’s fleet on the road to net-zero.

Developed in partnership with E.ON, this free-to-download report provides an end-to-end overview of EVs for UK businesses seeking to accelerate the transition, with information on all parts of the EV journey, from identifying and investing in the right EV models through to developing charging infrastructure and adopting innovative ‘vehicle-to-grid’ approaches. 

Click here to download your copy.

edie Staff

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