Friday 21st January 2022

Investment in electric vehicle infrastructure sorely needed

Published on October 21st, 2021

The announcement that the UK government has pledged £620m (€734.97m) in funding towards electric vehicles is welcome news to the EV industry. So is the commitment to improve electric charge points and EV infrastructure, says Alok Dubey, UK country manager at the electric vehicle charging app, Monta.

But the country is still way behind where it needs to be in terms of the infrastructure needed to support the rise in electric vehicles on our roads. Currently, around 500 points are being installed in the UK every month which, while promising, is still far behind the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders predictions of more than 700 EV charge points per day needed by 2030.

A wider charging network will help address ‘range anxiety’, which is still the biggest barrier to entry for potential EV buyers. However, there are other areas that need addressing to persuade first-time buyers and get more EVs on the road if the UK is to reach its Net Zero target.

The first is price. The average electric car in the UK currently costs around £44,000 (€52,159.19), which doesn’t include the price drivers have to pay for electric charging, parking, and even to get the battery replaced.

The answer to this is to reduce or completely remove taxation on new EVs. An AA survey suggests that two-thirds of drivers say scrapping VAT from the purchase price would be the most influential policy to help persuade them to buy an EV.

It’s certainly worked in other countries, such as Norway, where the government removed the 25% VAT from the purchase of a new EV. In UK terms, this could knock off around £11,000 (€13,039.80) from the average price.

The second answer is accessibility, as there are still too many black spots in rural areas of the UK compared to major cities such as London and Manchester. Even then, a lot of people in urban areas simply don’t have access to parking or a space where a charge point can be installed.

The UK can again learn from other countries in this respect. In countries such as Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, major charge point operators have teamed up to form roaming partnerships that grant EV drivers access to public charging stations within one subscription no matter the make, model, or manufacturer.

We have maybe 20 major charge point operators in the UK, many of which don’t connect with each other. The frustration of travelling mile after mile only to find out that you don’t have the right app or membership card can only be compared to passing petrol station after petrol station during the recent fuel crisis.

We need to get smarter about how we use existing and future EV charge points before we start installing more of them. Instead of just pumping money into the infrastructure and getting charge point manufacturers to build like crazy, we need to create better collaboration between government, industry, and EV drivers to really fuel the electric revolution.

The author is Alok Dubey, UK country manager at the electric vehicle charging app, Monta.

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