By Ben Lawson, vice president of mobility & project development - Europe, Enterprise Holdings
The recently announced Government Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) funding to help local authorities in England is another step in enlarging the charging network in England is key to a successful transition to EVs.
Many areas still have few on-street chargers, and of course, as many as 40% of people in the UK don’t have off-street parking – 24.6% of households – and rely on the public network.
The fact that LEVI applications will be more favourably viewed if they include a plan to introduce an EV car club at same time is an equally progressive step forward.
It is the first time that there is a clear link between EVs and mobility, and it shows a shift towards more joined-up thinking.
Sharing is vital to enable more people to drive an EV as most people can’t afford to own one, even though prices may continue to fall the cost of vehicles in the future is likely to be higher than in the past
This is where an EV car club can help bridge the gap in areas where people on lower incomes would be unable to afford an electric car, which is likely to correlate with areas with the lowest density of chargers.
However, EV motoring does not sit in isolation from other transport initiatives.
Using the LEVI programme to encourage collaboration between local authorities and other stakeholders involved in the shift to electric vehicles would have unlocked several additional benefits, promoting more joined-up thinking.
Local authorities can apply for LEVI funding without taking on board other EV projects in their local area, or indeed, outlining how the new chargers fit into a wider plan to encourage EV motoring alongside other modes of low- and zero-carbon travel.
Private car parks are introducing chargers, and some are also working in partnership with car club and rental car companies.
Local businesses are offering employees EV company cars and many are installing chargers on their parking facilities on a range of different cost models.
Car rental businesses are extending their EV fleets and electrifying their operations.
Collaboration and partnership open the scope to potentially mutualise costs on shared services such as grid upgrades, or to show how private sector funding is working alongside to stretch the value of the LEVI funds.
Local businesses starting to operate EV fleets could provide invaluable data and insight on existing usage that could better guide the location of the chargers, the choice of the charging partner and decisions around how best to provide the car club.
What types of vehicles should be provided, where should they be located and how should that be integrated with other shared transport modes in the area?
Are there positive patterns of behaviour that could be promoted by joining up with a national car club business, or is there a local supplier that could provide support?
Using LEVI funding to encourage local authorities to thinking about how EV charging fits into a wider mobility plan could unleash a host of benefits.
It could prompt bigger-picture thinking that embraces existing services, other planned upgrades and installations in each area, and other stakeholders interested in promoting zero-emission and shared transport more broadly.
EV charging does not exist in isolation, so it makes sense to connect with other organisations that are shifting to electric.
Installing chargers – even with an EV car club attached – is a step forward, but will not be sufficient to achieve the modal shift that local authorities are looking for without deeper planning and resources.
The shift to EVs is accelerating but it’s still small compared to the volume of petrol and diesel vehicles.
People continue to worry about cost, range and convenience. They want to know they’ll be able to access a vehicle when they need one.
Building the charging and transport network to build confidence in shared, zero-emission mobility as a central part of decarbonising travel requires concerted effort, which is best achieved when interested parties work together to make the most of all available resources.
About the author
Ben Lawson is responsible for the strategic development of all lines of Enterprise Holdings’ business in Europe, while driving efficiencies and growth within the organisation.