Our take on the Government’s EV infrastructure strategy

April 5, 2022

The Government released their EV infrastructure strategy on the 25th March 2022, and while there are some good points made, we feel there are a number of important gaps that need to be addressed. Here’s our quick take on what we agree with, and where we feel there are areas that need some more thought.

We welcome the focus on:

  • Making payment easier: for instance, contactless payment rather than multiple RFID cards, as the complexity of payments continues to be a persistent barrier to use. This was raised during recent stakeholder engagement sessions in Blackpool
  • Equality: this includes providing solutions for the significant proportion of UK households without off-street parking, and responding to the needs of disabled people (considering drivers and the impact of infrastructure on the streetscape)
  • Support for local authorities: including £500m of funding. This acknowledges the key role local authorities play in supporting infrastructure rollout and inevitably plugging gaps whilst the commercial market continues to mature. We particularly welcome the £50m of funding to cover staff costs (given local authorities previously had to cover staff costs themselves)

We are concerned about the following apparent gaps:

  • Ethics & sustainability: there is no acknowledgement of the impact of the EV supply chain, for instance the mining of cobalt (which has been linked to widespread child labour) or the lack of recycling facilities for lithium-ion batteries. Due diligence is required from vehicle manufacturers on their cobalt supply chain and we also need to see the widespread provision of recycling facilities for EV batteries
  • Shared access: there is little emphasis on the role of sharing assets, in terms of minimising the demand for both vehicles and infrastructure. Sharing vehicles (for instance through car clubs) could support mode shift, whilst sharing charging infrastructure could help minimise street clutter and maximise return on investment. This could mean residents sharing their home charging solutions or a fleet organisation sharing their infrastructure with the public when not in use (for instance, sharing charging solutions at bus depots, as London have proposed)
  • Air quality: The strategy makes no reference to brake and tyre wear. Whilst exhaust emissions are set to decline as the fleet electrifies, non-exhaust emissions (NEE) from road traffic have been slowly increasing and are becoming a much larger share of overall PM10, and PM 2.5 traffic emissions. To achieve further air quality gains, we must shift our focus to NEE, not just exhaust emissions

To summarise

It’s great to see the Government being proactive with this strategy to help improve the UK’s EV infrastructure, and we feel it’s a welcome move in the right direction. But it’s a complicated challenge that will take much refinement and ongoing evolution to be successful. We hope the government will address some of the gaps we have identified above as a matter of urgency.

We are working with many clients to deliver successful EV strategies across the UK and have put together our own list of learnings for implementing them effectively. If you’re part of an organisation looking to implement EV infrastructure, you can read our blog ‘8 key lessons for developing successful EV strategies’.