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EV Infrastructure Strategy to improve consumer experience at chargepoints

A new government strategy aims to improve the consumer experience at electric vehicle chargepoints, support people without access to off-street parking, and provide fast charging for longer journeys.

The government has committed £1.6 billion to expand the UK charging network – with around 300,000 public chargers expected to be available by 2030.

Chargepoint operators will legally be required to meet rigorous standards, enabling drivers to pay easily and find nearby chargers.

The government says that the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy means that charging will become easier and cheaper than refuelling a petrol or diesel car, while new legal requirements on operators will see drivers of EVs able to pay by contactless, compare charging prices and find nearby chargepoints via apps.

The new strategy sets out the government’s aim to expand the UK’s charging network, so that it is robust, fair and covers the entire country – as well as improving the consumer experience at all chargepoints, with significant support focused on those without access to off-street parking, and on fast charging for longer journeys.

£500 million will be invested to bring high quality, competitively priced public chargepoints to communities across the UK. This includes a £450 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, which will boost projects such as EV hubs and innovative on-street charging, so those without driveways don’t miss out on cleaner transport.

A pilot scheme for the LEVI fund launching today will see local authorities bid for a share of £10 million in funding, allowing selected areas to work with industry and boost public charging opportunities.

Meanwhile, the LEVI funding includes up to £50 million to fund staff to work on local challenges and public chargepoint planning – ensuring that any development complements all other zero emission forms of travel, such as walking and cycling.

The existing £950 million Rapid Charging Fund will support the rollout of at least 6,000 high powered super-fast chargepoints across England’s motorways by 2035.

This comes on top of ministers’ pledges to continue addressing any barriers to private sector rollout of chargepoints, such as local councils delaying planning permission and high connection costs.

Chargepoint operators are already committed to installing an additional 15,000 rapid chargepoints across England’s entire road network – a quadrupling of the current offer – and over 100,000 on-street chargepoints by 2025.

Paul Clarke, Green Car Guide Editor, comments: “Driving every single EV that’s been on sale in the UK around the country for over ten years has provided some very interesting perspectives on public charging. Using chargers at motorways service areas on a regular basis, there have been many times when the small number of chargers haven’t been working, and many times when petrol and diesel cars have been parked in the only available charging bay.

“There have been recent improvements in the ease of use of rapid chargers thanks to the long-overdue introduction of contactless payment rather than drivers having to wrestle with apps, but now there are often queues at chargepoints due to the increasing numbers of EVs on our roads. However if you drive a Tesla, you would have had a completely different experience of charging for years, with the availability of lots of reliable, easy to use, and fast chargers – so there’s the model for the rest of the industry.

“As EVs are now becoming mainstream, a big step change in the ease of use of public chargers is needed. Next challenge: public charge points for electric commercial vehicles…”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’re powering ahead with plans to help British people go electric, with our expanding charging network making journeys easier right across the country.

“Clean transport isn’t just better for the environment, but is another way we can drive down our dependence on external energy supplies. It will also create new high-skilled jobs for our automotive and energy sectors and ultimately secure more sustainable and affordable motoring for all.”

The government says that drivers are at the heart of the revolutionary plan, with rigorous new standards and legislation being introduced to improve people’s experience of using public chargepoints.

The government is mandating that operators provide real-time data about chargepoints. It is ensuring that consumers can compare prices and seamlessly pay for their charging using contactless cards. They will also be able to use apps to find their nearest available chargepoint.

These plans will also require a 99% reliability rate at rapid chargepoints to ensure they are world-class and give consumers confidence in finding chargepoints that work wherever they travel – helping eradicate so-called ‘range anxiety’.

Even with recent trends in electricity prices, EVs still benefit from lower fuel, running and maintenance costs than their petrol and diesel equivalents and the strategy hopes to encourage drivers across the nation to make the switch.

Production costs also continue to fall and some analysts expect purchase price parity with petrol and diesel cars to be reached well within the 2020s.

This forms part of wider government plans to reduce the UK’s reliance on imports of foreign oil, improving the security of our energy supply and reducing the country’s vulnerability to volatility in global energy prices.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “No matter where you live – be that a city centre or rural village, the north, south, east or west of the country – we’re powering up the switch to electric and ensuring no one gets left behind in the process.

“The scale of the climate challenge ahead of us all is well known and decarbonising transport is at the very heart of our agenda.

“That’s why we’re ensuring the country is EV-fit for future generations by the end of this decade, revolutionising our charging network and putting the consumer first.”

bp pulse is today announcing its own plans to spend £1 billion on developing charging infrastructure in the UK to deliver more high-speed charging in dedicated hubs and on existing fuel and convenience sites.

Alongside the pioneering strategy, the government is also launching an automotive roadmap outlining joint government and industry commitments to achieve the decarbonisation of road transport.

This is the first in a series of roadmaps that will be published over the course of the year for each sector of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, showcasing how the UK is delivering on its green commitments.

The roadmap brings together the government’s policies designed to help and support the automotive sector in the shift towards greener transport and will help businesses plan more effectively in the transition to a zero-emission future.

Taking Charge: the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy

The full strategy is available to download here:

Alongside the EV Infrastructure Strategy, the government has also published:

Response to the Consumer Experience at Public Chargepoints consultation:

Response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s EV Charging Market study:

EV charging infrastructure resource hub for local authorities:

The Local EV Infrastructure Fund (LEVI) pilot fund is now open to applications:

A new UK-specific lifecycle analysis comparing the whole-life emissions of vehicles with different powertrains, including fully electric and conventional petrol and diesel vehicles:

Research on the future charging needs and preferences of UK drivers without off-street parking:

Design considerations for electric vehicle chargepoints, intended to help organisations installing chargepoints think through the role design can play in ensuring a positive experience for both consumers and those using the wider environment (such as pedestrians):

A UK Government Automotive Roadmap, setting out policies and investment committed to support the transition to zero emission vehicles, covering both supply and demand:

Read Green Car Guide’s review of the SMMT Electrified Conference 2022