London launches EV taskforce as vehicle demand swells

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a taskforce aimed at boosting electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure in the city, just days after car sharing firm Zipcar introduced more than 300 Volkswagen e-Golfs to its platform to create the UK's largest pool of publicly available shared EVs.

The new Zipcar fleet will be based in London, with the first 100 EVs being made available to members by summer and the fleet scaled up to 325 by the end of 2018.

Zipcar said in a statement that it hopes growing its EV fleet will “take electric driving from niche to mainstream in the capital”, adding that shared access will “help break down the current barriers to EV adoption” such as purchase costs and concerns over charging infrastructure.

“With over 200,000 Zipcar members now in London, we are already seeing Londoners embracing car sharing rather than car owning in growing numbers,” Zipcar UK’s general manager, Jonathan Hampson, added. “If we are to achieve healthier, cleaner streets, as set out in the Mayor of London’s latest Transport Strategy, this change away from car ownership and towards car access is essential.”

The Transport Strategy, launched in February 2018, has a headline target of making London’s transport system zero-emission by 2050. This relies on 80% of journeys around the capital being made on foot, by bicycle or by public transport, with greener vehicles accounting for the remaining 20%.

To build on this, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has today (31 May) announced the creation of a new taskforce to boost EV uptake across the city. The taskforce comprises of 16 organisations including UK Power Networks, the British Retail Consortium and the RAC Foundation. A deliver plan will be published next year.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “I’m delighted to launch a new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Taskforce today, bringing together industry, businesses and the public sector to work together to deliver electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the capital. London’s filthy air is a public health crisis, and encouraging more Londoners to switch from diesel to electric vehicles is critical in tackling it.

“We’ve received huge support for this new taskforce, showing it is not just an environment or transport issue but one that is vital to the future of our city, and organisations across all sectors are stepping up and accepting they have a part to play. This initiative will support London boroughs and ensure electric vehicle infrastructure is installed in the right places, and help make our city an even better place to live.”

London has more rapid charging points installed than New York, Stockholm and Madrid, while EVs in the city account for 10% of the UK’s total. Around 2,000 standard charge points can be found in London, while 150 rapid charge points will be in place by the end of 2018.

Charging ahead

The new Zipcar e-Golfs will be available as part of the firm’s pay-per-minute Flex service, which allows members to “drive and drop” cars for one-way trips within London, and will have a range of 150 miles per charge.

The move from Zipcar coincides with the publication of new research suggesting that public chargers will account for just 8% of EV charging in Britain in the next three to 10 years.

Despite much of the EV conversation centring on public charging infrastructure, with a wide-reaching belief that at least double the 16,000 charging points that exist today will be required on the streets of Britain to meet the EV charging needs of 2030, predictions from consultancy firm Data-ee indicate that the vast majority of EV charging will soon be carried out off-street at consumer’s homes or at company hubs.

The research, which draws on surveys of individuals classed as “early EV adopters”, suggests that 85% of motorists within this demographic will have off-street chargers. It claims that while the UK’s public charging infrastructure is expected to be important for addressing range anxiety, it will account for a small portion of total charging.

Delta-ee’s senior analyst Matti Kahola said the findings indicate there is a “brewing battle to capture the market for EV services”, claiming that the winners of the future may sell “mobility, not cars” and “kilometres rather than kilowatts”.

Despite Delta-ee’s claims, Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has already moved to boost access to public charging infrastructure in the UK. The company will launch its InCharge service next month, which enables “any driver” to use its charging infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The service requires no membership and Vattenfall is attempting to agree roaming agreements with other charge point operators to streamline EV charging for users.

To find out more about electrifying your fleet, you can read edie’s “turning EV challenges into opportunities” roundtable write-up by clicking here.

Sarah George & Matt Mace

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