Policy statement

Electric vehicle recharging infrastructure

With consumers slow to trade in their petrol or diesel cars, our policy statement looks at what recharging options are available to drive the take-up of electric vehicles.

The UK government has made a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% in a little over three decades. Transport currently produces about a quarter of the UK’s total CO2 emissions, with road transport contributing over 80% of this total.

However, mobility is essential as it drives economic growth and societal development. We must therefore opt for solutions offering the greatest emissions reductions from the 31.4 million cars and vans on our roads.

In its 4th Carbon Budget, the Committee on Climate Change warned that the entire car stock needs to be electric in order to meet the Climate Change Act’s 2050 CO2 reduction target. To achieve this, all new vehicles need to be electric by 2035. This would require significant penetration by 2030, given limits on scope for accelerating the pace of take-up.

We are entering a period during which choices about electric vehicles (EVs) and their enabling infrastructure will have a significant impact on the long-term viability of electric vehicles. The availability of appropriate charging facilities will be a vital part of this.

In various configurations, EVs are likely to form a significant part of a low-carbon transport future. However, sales of EVs have so far been low. The main reasons for this have been the relatively high capital costs of EVs, their limited range and performance, and a limited availability of cars and charging facilities.

Change is, however, taking place. Policy interventions offer help with capital costs; rapid engineering-led progress means that EV range is increasing and operating performance is moving towards that of conventional vehicles. As a result, EVs from mainstream manufacturers are now arriving in the showrooms.

From early 2011, consumers will have a wider choice, albeit initially limited, of EVs from some of the big names in vehicle manufacturing. At the same time EV trials and demonstrator schemes continue as part of the ongoing development and awareness-raising process. Announcements about EV developments are occurring frequently and regularly.

Estimates suggest that about 3.1 million EVs will be sold globally between 2010 and 2015. The roll-out of EVs will require a supporting infrastructure of recharging facilities. Schemes have been launched to provide public charging facilities in major urban areas around Europe, and London is one of the leaders in this work.

Key recommendations

  1. Government should play a central role in creating co-operation among local authorities to ensure consistent electric vehicle infrastructure strategies.
  2. Strategic planning authorities should prioritise the introduction of workplace Level 1 chargers.
  3. Manufacturers should work together to create and use consistent standards and protocols for charging and billing.
  4. Government and manufacturers should work together to fund and undertake research into reducing ‘rapid charge’ times.



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