The price of new BEVs is still holding customers back

A new report from thinktank Bright Blue has detailed the barriers to adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in the UK, making policy recommendations to address these.

Through a mix of stakeholder consultation, a call for written evidence and literature review it found that the upfront price of BEVs is the largest barrier to uptake for households, being repeatedly highlighted in the evidence.

A lack of chargepoints – or perceived lack – is also a key barrier, with the Bright Blue report referencing a poll from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) that found that 44% of drivers thought a lack of local chargepoints held the back from purchasing a BEV.

Range anxiety still a big off put.

Other barriers include range anxiety and the limited choice of BEVs on the market.

As a result, Bright Blue has released a number of recommendations for the government to help tackle these barriers and increase uptake.

As it stands, local authorities determine where on-street chargepoints will be installed in residential areas, which this part funded through the On Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme.

However, this should be demand-led, according to the thinktank, recommending the government introduces an obligation on all local authorities to install on-street vehicle chargepoints within three months when requested by residents unless there are reasonable ground for objecting. This should be facilitated by an online system that is established and administered by the local authority.

Make Petrol forecourts install EV chargepoints

A requirement should also be introduced for all petrol stations above a certain size to have at least three rapid chargepoints by 2023, with this funded partly by petroleum companies and partly by government.

Currently, the government’s Rapid Charging Fund is aiming to finance connection costs for 350kW chargers across the strategic road network with a goal of having six rapid chargers installed on each motorway service area site by 2023.

When it comes to petrol stations specifically, O&G giants such as Shell and BP have begun installing rapid EV chargers at their petrol forecourts, whilst all electric forecourts are being developed by GRIDSERVE, with its first going live last year.

The Bright Blue report continues to recommend that any chargepoints that receive funding from either central or local government should also be interoperable, with this a condition of the funding.

The report said that this would act as a catalyst for an increase in cross-network agreements and interoperability between charging networks.

A boost for Used EV buyers?

A Used Vehicle Plug-in Car Grant of at least £2,000 should also be introduced to support low-income people becoming BEV owners.

Additionally, the government should introduce a mandate immediately stating that all new vehicles purchased for the public fleet – including central government vehicles and vehicles managed by local councils – must be BEVs.

The report acknowledged that BEVs are more expensive to purchase than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, but continued to state that central and local government would benefit from the lower lifetime costs of BEVs.

As part of the Road to Zero strategy, the government committed to electrifying central government’s fleet by 2030. In 2019, then-transport secretary Chris Grayling reiterated this commitment but added that achievements made in electrification needed to be reflected across all government fleets, not just those in central government.