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Mandate charger interoperability and government electric fleets, says thinktank

By / 3 months ago / UK News / No Comments

Electric vehicle uptake must be boosted by far-more radical policies, including for all new vehicle purchases for the public fleet to be battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and for interoperability to be a condition for all charge point grant funding.

Bright Blue says the Government should introduce a mandate immediately stating that all new vehicle purchases for the public fleet (central and local government) must be battery electric vehicles

These are just some of the calls from liberal conservative thinktank Bright Blue in a new report calling for both fiscal and regulatory policies to mature the market for battery electric vehicles and help ensure the Government meets its legal net zero 2050 emissions target.

Top of the list for regulatory policy recommendations is the immediate introduction of a mandate stating that all new vehicle purchases for the public fleet must be BEVs. This would in time boost the second-hand BEV market; the report says used cars must be a focus to ensure that less well-off households can access BEVs.

The ‘Maturing the market for battery electric vehicles’ report also calls for interoperability to be a condition for central and local government funding towards charge points and says that in the UK, unlike other countries, few cross-network agreements to facilitate interoperability exist.

Bright Blue also says there should be an obligation on all local authorities to install on-street electric vehicle chargepoints within three months when requested by residents, unless there are reasonable grounds for objecting. And this should be facilitated by an online system established and administered by the local authority.

The thinktank also calls for all petrol stations above a certain size to have at least three rapid charge points by 2023, funded in part by the relevant oil company company, even in franchises, but also by the Government.

It also calls for the use of estimated lifetime costs to be mandatory for all used vehicle sales, as well as new, alongside the retail upfront price, and using a pounds-per-100 mile based on a Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) accredited system.

Among its main fiscal policy recommendations, Bright Blue calls for the Government to front-load the value of the Plug-in Car Grant so it equals £5,000, from the current level of £3,000, from April 2021 and then gradually reduce its value in regular intervals before being phased out completely from October 2023. This 30-month plan would encourage fleets and private drivers to purchase new BEVs as soon as possible; in turn helping the second-hand market too.

It also calls for a new Used Vehicle Plug-in Car Grant of at least £2,000 to support low-income people into BEV ownership. And it says there should be  enhanced capital allowances for businesses which purchase zero-emission vehicles for the purpose of renting and leasing them.

Patrick Hall, senior researcher of Bright Blue and co-author of the report, said: “Whilst the UK government has taken steps to grow the market for battery electric vehicles and their uptake has been trending in the right direction over the last decade, there remains a long way to go before the UK’s battery electric vehicle market is comparable to that of other high-performing countries. It is imperative that the market for battery electric vehicles – both new and used – grows substantially over the next decade if the UK is to meet its legal net zero 2050 emissions target.

“The common characteristics of an electric vehicle owner include being affluent, well-educated, middle-aged and male. It is important that less well-off households are not left behind in the electric transition, and as such, policies to bolster the second hand market are critical. Focussing on the used market for battery electric vehicles will achieve both better progressive and environmental outcomes.”

Responding to the report, a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “This Government is going further and faster than ever before to decarbonise transport and to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.

“One in 10 cars sold in the UK in 2020 had a plug, and with record numbers of zero- and low-emission vehicles on the roads, our £2.8bn strategy is powering the electric transition to incentivise drivers and create a cleaner, greener transport system for all.”

To access the Bright Blue report, click here.

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news - or gossip.