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Petrol body calls for ‘more carrot, less stick’ to install charge points

Volvo plug-in

The Government has been told that fuel retailers should not be forced to install electric vehicle (EV) charge points without some sort of subsidy.

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, will make the provision of charging infrastructure mandatory at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers.

However, the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) told MPs on the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill committee that retailers need “more carrot and less stick”.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, said: “Subsidy schemes for home and workplace charging equipment exist, while there is no assistance for fuel retailers, yet fuel retailers are being legislated against. 

“Rapid charging infrastructure is unaffordable and the return on investment is not sufficient. To increase the uptake, a government grant for retailers needs to be provided.”

In a recent report for the RAC Foundation, looking at how the powers the Government is seeking in its Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill could be used to best effect, automotive consultant Harold Dermott laid out the key recharging challenges that urgently need addressing (fleetnews.co.uk, October 4).

He says that Government support has encouraged quantity rather than quality, with the result that the current public charge point network is “unattractive to use and is unsuitable for encouraging the next wave of EV customers”.

Without widespread, reliable and simple-to-use charge points the practicalities of ‘filling up’ electric cars could limit the mass-market appeal of ultra-green vehicles.

It could also hamper the Government’s plan to ban the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “A robust public charging network is critical for enticing people to go electric and make the leap to ‘pure’ electric.

“We may be on the cusp of a motoring revolution, but step-changes in vehicle technology must be matched by equally big strides in our recharging infrastructure.”

About 43% of residential properties do not have access to off-street parking, therefore other forms of charging facilities need to be available, according to Marcus Stewart, head of energy insights for the National Grid.

He told the committee that installing charge points at key locations on the strategic road network would act as a key enabler for the roll-out of EVs and will help to remove some of the concerns around range anxiety, which is seen as one of the main barriers to adoption. 

“If you do not have that, it is likely that the roll-out will be slower,” he said.

New electric vehicle registration data shows that public appetite for plug-in vehicles continued to accelerate in the third quarter of 2017.

A total of 12,932 plug-in models were registered between July and September, a rise of 36% on the same period in 2016 and 721 units higher than the previous record quarter, January-March 2017.

Nevertheless, Madderson argues that the charge point market has to mature before fuel retailers should be forced to act. 

“We feel mandating the implementation of EV charge points too early would be dangerous to businesses affected,” he said. 

“A standardised charging option has yet to emerge and the technology is still in its primitive stages of development.”

 

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