Transport Select Committee delivers recommendations to government to support EV uptake

A postcode lottery is what charging has been branded by the Transport Select Committee, which has recommended a range of initiatives to improve the public charging experience for EV owners. With home charging both cheaper and more convenient, for those who can’t hook up easily at home these recommendations will be welcome.

The Select Committee, which is formed from a cross-party group of MPs, has set out six key areas that the government must do in order to bring public charging up to scratch. If they fail to do so, the fear is that not only will consumers be put off going electric, the government will miss its targets and blackouts could occur.

Whilst the last point seems extremely unlikely given that the national grid is already more than confident of being able to cope with demand, the other issues are not just concerns for the future; they’re here and now already.

The Committee questioned whether the government’s current plans go far enough to deliver appropriate charging infrastructure across the UK. It notes that with the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars coming in 2030, and an outright ban on cars and vans with any fossil fuel power shortly thereafter in 2035, charging infrastructure must be able to deliver for those who live in rural or remote areas as well as those who don’t have off-street parking.

Six recommendations have been made:

  • Work with the National Grid to ensure the grid is resilient enough to cope with demand and eradicate ‘no-spots’
  • Make public charging a requirement of development and invest in planning and transport bodies to deliver it
  • Protect EV owners from excessive costs when using public chargers
  • Address the discrepancy between five per cent VAT on home charging, and 20 per cent VAT for on-street charging
  • Insist that charging suppliers use flexible pricing to reduce demand on the grid at peak times
  • Create a ‘zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) mandate’ where manufacturers that make more EVs can sell credits to those that produce less and reduce the price of their EVs.

On the last point the Committee notes: “A ZEV mandate would incentivise car manufacturers to steadily increase sales of zero emission vehicles towards the 2030 target for all new vehicles to have ‘significant zero emission capability’. This would bring ZEVs within reach of more consumers encouraged by cost-effective ways to support purchases compared to taxpayer-funded incentives.”

Essentially, it would be shifting the onus onto manufacturers to sort out pricing among themselves by penalising those that produce fewer EVs. How workable that would be remains to be seen, but with the plug-in car grant only safeguarded to 2023, it’s obvious MPs are looking for workarounds.

Chair of the Transport Committee, Huw Merriman MP, said: “As car usage returns to pre-pandemic levels, we must keep our sights locked on the target: all new cars and vans should be electric by 2035 at the latest. To help consumers see their route to a zero emission world, choosing to run an electric vehicle must be as seamless as possible.”

He added: “The Government's inclusion of a ZEV mandate in a recent consultation is welcome but not enough on its own. Charging electric vehicles should be convenient, straightforward and inexpensive and drivers must not be disadvantaged by where they live or how they charge their vehicles. Shifting the subsidy from the taxpayer to the manufacturer will incentivise those who deliver the fewest electric vehicles in our showrooms to up their game.”

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, notes that electrifying those who can’t charge at home is a key challenge facing the UK. He echoed the findings of the Committee, stating: “Without reliable, affordable and accessible public charging, households without off-street parking will be left behind. With the 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles fast approaching, it’s crucial that we act now to ensure this doesn’t happen. This means ramping up the installation of on-street charging solutions across the board.”

Discover EV’s take

The recommendations by the Committee are broadly sensible and simply put weight behind things we’ve known for a long time. Some of the issues – like charging being a ‘postcode lottery’ – are old news, and prices for charging on key routes has crept up to the point of almost being off-putting. Getting a handle on this, enforcing standards and mandating local authorities to include charging in planning is not desirable; it’s required. We’re expecting a report on a charging roadmap in due course so we look forward to seeing what’s in there, and whether the Transport Select Committee’s recommendations have been heeded.

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