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Report reinforces that consumer needs should be at the centre of EV charging

The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce is today submitting twenty-one key proposals for actions to be taken by government and industry to enable the efficient integration of electric vehicles with the energy system during the electrification transition.

An unprecedented collaboration between key players in the energy, infrastructure and transport sectors demonstrates that an effectively managed integration of electric vehicles with the energy system can bring significant consumer benefits including lower costs and a seamless recharging experience.

Under certain circumstances, the introduction of ‘smart’ charging could enable a typical motorist to enjoy very low – or even zero – motoring energy costs, potentially saving £70/month or more.

These are findings of the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce which is today submitting twenty-one key proposals for actions to be taken by government and industry to enable the efficient integration of electric vehicles with the energy system during the electrification transition. The proposals are included in a report which is being launched at an event this afternoon in central London.

The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, an unprecedented collaboration (established jointly by business and transport ministers at the Prime Minister’s Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, in September 2018) is made up of more than 350 organisations including many household names.

In its formal report to the Government, the Taskforce sets out a range of proposals. These include:

• Placing consumer needs at the centre of the EV transition;

• Providing financial incentives to EV drivers to ensure that the potential energy storage capacity of millions of electric vehicles is used to reduce peak demand; 

• Prioritising ease of access to public charge points and introducing greater standardisation across the charging network to provide easy access for all;

• Establishing an independent body to promote the benefits of smart charging through a major publicity campaign to ensure EV drivers are confident and well informed;

• Co-ordinating energy and transport planning to ensure we have the right infrastructure in the right place.

An AA Populus survey of over 17,000 motorists found that the vast majority of motorists underestimate their potential monthly savings from running an electric vehicle. The survey found that the average car driver thinks they can save around £30 a month; less than half the actual saving possible.

The same survey found that an overwhelming majority of car drivers believe that easy inter-operability between charge points is a key factor in deciding whether or not drivers will buy an EV.

The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce is believed to be the most wide-ranging collaboration between the UK’s energy and transport/mobility industries. The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership was asked to convene and facilitate the work of the Taskforce.

The Taskforce states that “the transition to electric motoring is now well under way”, but that the pace must increase. Road transport accounts for 28% of the UK’s total energy consumption and 25% of carbon emissions.

Philip New, Chief Executive, Energy Systems Catapult and the EV Energy Taskforce Chair said: “Ensuring that the mass roll-out of electric vehicles delivers benefits for both drivers and the wider energy system requires actions from industry, Government and the regulator, including creating the new markets and policies that can unlock EVs’ huge potential.”

In order to meet climate change targets, the government has already announced that conventionally powered cars will be phased out by 2040. The Committee on Climate Change estimates that the new net zero target could mean that this date will be brought forward. National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios show that 11.9 million vehicles could be electric by 2030.

The Taskforce expects electric vehicles to become ubiquitous on Britain’s roads, providing a significant challenge – and opportunity – for the UK’s electricity network.

Coordinating the introduction of a smart charging infrastructure will enable network operators to balance demand and supply through an electricity grid increasingly incorporating intermittent renewable energy sources. EV drivers willing to charge their vehicles during periods of low electricity demand or when surplus renewable energy is being generated will benefit from lower fuel costs in the transition ahead.

Three important recommendations relate to the correct use of consumers’ personal data and the means to ensure people’s privacy is properly protected and smart charging of EVs is secure.

Commenting in advance of today’s launch event in Westminster…

Minister for the Future of Transport George Freeman said: “We are 100% committed to decarbonising the UK’s road network. Our £1.5bn Road to Zero strategy is supporting a thriving electric vehicle market; last year in the UK a battery electric vehicle was sold every 15 minutes.

“Government commissioned the Taskforce to advise how we can best work with industry to make sure the energy system is ready for the transition to electric vehicles. This report provides important evidence to shape the next stage of our Road to Zero roadmap.”

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “From cycling, to opting for an airline that offsets its carbon emissions, the ways we travel are changing as the UK makes positive strides towards ending its contribution to global warming by 2050. 

“This report takes us a step closer towards the mass uptake of electric vehicles on our streets – providing guidance to ensure our energy system is prepared for an electric transport revolution and helping consumers top-up their vehicle more cheaply and conveniently on the go.” 

“For the mass uptake of electric vehicles to succeed, consumers need independent advice, support and protection starting at the point of sale, combined with effective complaint handling.” said Gillian Guy, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Advice

“The welcome growth in electric vehicles shows there’s increasing buyer appetite for these new exciting technologies. Vehicle manufacturers are investing heavily to bring more choice to the UK – which must be supported by an appropriate and appealing electric vehicle charging network for EV drivers.” said Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles said: “With the emergence of brilliant electric cars, the revolution on our roads is happening quicker than most people can imagine. This will create a huge distributed battery sitting outside our homes – that can help us balance the grid as we move to a green economy. 

“As we do this, it is critical that we put the customer in control with smart energy tariffs – that reward drivers for charging at off-peak times – and clever tech to make it easy.” 

Edmund King, President of the AA (which commissioned the associated Populus survey) said: “Consumers must be at the heart of the EV revolution. Drivers are concerned about air quality, climate change and costs – the transition to EVs can begin to address all three.

“Drivers underestimate the fuel savings of switching to an EV by at least £360 a year. There are further savings too which include; vehicle excise duty, servicing, parts, parking and congestion charges. Add all these together and the total savings climb to more than £1,000 a year – and much more for residents where their council charges combustion vehicles for access. We need to convince consumers that they can save costs and carbon.”

Andy Eastlake, LowCVP’s Managing Director said: “Developing a multi-stakeholder co-ordinated view on what is needed to liberate the electric vehicle smart charging sector has been vital in providing ‘no regret’ proposals to government and industry.”