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'Pan-London' approach for EV charging proposed

Date: 01 June 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Running an electric company car in London without access to off-street parking could be about to get easier. Sean Keywood reports.

Business drivers will be among those to benefit from measures to encourage electric vehicle (EV) use in London, it is hoped.

The London Assembly Environment Committee has published a report on EVs, calling for a 'pan-London' approach to be adopted regarding electric charging points, spearheaded by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The report says that the number of EVs in the capital is growing faster than the number of charging points, and that while it is "essential" that Londoners move away from petrol and diesel cars, 60% do not have their own garage or driveway and would therefore need to rely on on-street charging.

The committee recommends that Transport for London funding should be offered to install charging points where private sector investment is not happening quickly enough, with available funding from individual London boroughs heavily over-subscribed. 

It also recommends that, for a limited period, all London boroughs should be encouraged to make parking for EVs free or discounted, to help drive take-up.

The report says that car clubs are a "golden opportunity" to get more EVs on the road and that a target should be set for a percentage of EVs in car club fleets.

Léonie Cooper AM, who was chair of the committee during the report investigation, said, "The time is ripe for London to take charge, if we want to future-proof this city for an electric car revolution. 

"The mayor has a key role to play in spearheading the shift to EVs, preferably not individually owned, but shared via car clubs."

Cooper said that company car drivers were among those that should be encouraged to go electric, although where possible she would like them to be among those switching to options such as car sharing.

"An EV is best for company cars, if companies are providing them and a journey can't be made by public transport, walking or cycling," she said.

"However, if company cars are only used for occasional business trips, companies should consider pool cars or car club membership, preferably with EVs.

"If provided, company cars should provide employees with the cleanest, low-emission vehicles on the road. In London, that should be an EV. 

"These cars are cleaner, quieter, help to cut emissions and save on fuel costs. 

"As London's buses and taxis become electric, where cars are used, they need to follow suit."

The report states that encouraging those without off-street parking to get an EV is the biggest challenge for take-up, as concerns about charging points are deep-rooted.

It adds that the spread, location and accessibility of charging points is more important than the total number, so a strategic pan-London approach is needed.

Cooper said, "EVs are much better for the environment. What puts people off though, is not knowing whether they will be able to find a charger.

"We need to get the number and location of charging points right, as well as raise awareness of charging points in the capital. This infrastructure is essential if London is to continue the EV revolution."

The report adds that plans also need to be put in place to consider the impact of EV charging on electricity supplies, and recommends that London should be prepared to address this through smart technology in charging points and the underlying infrastructure.

Reacting to the report, Renewable Energy Association EV lead Daniel Brown said, "The London Assembly Environment Committee makes a number of welcome suggestions in this report. 

"Achieving mass adoption of EVs is eminently achievable, but the development of required infrastructure will need coordination between government at all levels, developers, grids and consumers.

"Ensuring that new properties, including those with public car parks such as supermarkets and offices, are 100% EV ready with relevant trenching, wiring and ducting in place, would make it easier for those with and without off-street parking to charge their cars in London and beyond."