• Tim Fullbrook

How will the British government be ‘taking charge’ of EV infrastructure?


Progress. That’s what it’s all about, right? Progress towards greener living, cleaner air, energy security, and saving our little blue marble.

At the end of last week – as fuel prices and Rishi Sunak dominated the headlines – the British Government unveiled major plans to help boost the EV infrastructure across the country. Notice how this didn’t get any major headlines? It’s unfortunate that the good news surrounding e-mobility never gets the same air time, considering that transport is the biggest polluter in the UK. But that’s a conversation for another time. One of the major barriers to private and commercial EV ownership is a sense of inconvenience when it comes to charging. With your previously-owned 1.5L petrol hatchback the chances are you can find a petrol station anywhere in the UK if you need it, but that might not be so easy if you need to charge your gorgeous new Fiat 500 electric.

But that might be all about to change. Progress, at last, as the Government announces a major initiative to make charging prominent, accessible, and reliable across the country.

So let’s condense the whopping 138 page document into the key storylines you need to know about.

£950m investment into the rapid charging fund

This is easily the biggest statistic to take away from the announcement, and not least due to the sheer financial investment, but what it is being directed towards.

At the end of 2022 the Government aims to begin building and implementing some 6,000 new super-fast charging points on major motorways and A-Roads, and that starts with some considerable electric infrastructure being built on a national scale. In scenarios where the commercial decision to invest in charging points doesn’t make sense, the Rapid Charging Fund is there to enable hundreds of major locations to implement up-to-date chargers.

And this is only part of the 300,000 public chargers the UK is predicted to have by 2030. If you don’t think this sounds like much, for comparison there are only 66,000 spaces at petrol pumps across the country.

The government admit rollout has been too slow

Although this isn’t necessarily a statistical takeaway from the strategy announcement, it’s great to see acceptance that change needs to happen now.

The government states that the current rate of charge point deployment “is not at a pace consistent with what is needed for a wholly zero emission new car fleet in 2035.”

EVs are and will continue to be capable of meeting the needs of private and commercial ownership, but building the correct visible infrastructure to enable the switch is fundamental to supporting the progress of EV uptake.

We can't give you the thumbs-up just yet Bojo, but keep trying.

Continuing to provide subsidies for private and workplace purchases

The strategy also includes an update to the Home-Charging and Workplace schemes that gives you access to 75% of the costs if you want a charging point at home or at your workplace.

New chargers outside the Electroheads office. Finally!

Unfortunately the grant has now been capped at £350, but overall still helps knock a big chunk out of the cost of installation and provides another financial incentive to go electric.

Free money, who would say no to that?

Supporting innovation from within the market

At Electroheads we are continually exposed to a continual stream of fantastic new creations from within the e-mobility sector. Whether this be new forms of transport themselves, or technology around charging, to apps and smart-things to make living with an EV more accessible – we’ve seen it all. The Government now plans to enable these companies to act within a supported framework to enhance the progress from those at the forefront of development, and ultimately provide a better market for consumers and businesses. Increasing choice, and increasing standards.

Confidence in, and regulation of charging standards

You know those barriers to change mentioned earlier? Well one of the biggest obstacles to living greener was a combination of restrictions: Physical location, a lack of time, and in some cases accessibility for those with disabilities.

The Government wants to regulate charge points to ensure they are “reliable and easy to use” in addition to implementing “chargepoint design standards to improve accessibility and improve signage to chargepoint locations.”

This new strategy focuses on ensuring that not only are chargers more readily available, but when you get to one you know exactly what you'll be getting from it, and more importantly improving the design to make them straightforward to use.

You shouldn’t have to question what you’re plugging your car into, whether it’s safe to do so, and if the chargepoint is actually working, likewise it shouldn’t be a major inconvenience to plug your car in when you need to.

Overall, the Government’s new strategy does mark a breakthrough at the highest level in making charging infrastructure more viable, visible and verified – but talk is cheap. Let’s hope this marks a real change in the top-down attitude to e-mobility, and therefore a greater incentive for those to make the switch.