London must lead electric vehicle charge

·3-min read
London must lead electric vehicle charge

More than 10,000 electric vehicle charging points have been installed in London but thousands more are needed to cater for the expected surge in demand from motorists, it was revealed on Thursday.

The landmark breakthrough came as the Evening Standard launched a major campaign, Plug It In, to highlight the benefits and explore the challenges of the capital going electric.

London accounts for almost a third of the UK’s 32,132 publicly available charging points, including about 750 rapid devices that can recharge a car in 20 minutes, according to the latest data from City Hall and Zap-Map.

But Mayor Sadiq Khan predicts 40,000 to 60,000 chargers, including up to 4,000 rapids, will be needed by the end of the decade to meet soaring demand as Londoners ditch diesel and petrol.

This means 10 new chargers will have to be installed every day until the end of the decade, according to the business group London First.

The number of electric cars registered annually in the capital increased by 60 per cent last year, taking the total to 86,568. One in five new cars bought by Londoners is now a “plug-in” — either battery or hybrid.

The total number of electric vehicles in London could hit 1.4 million by 2030 — half of all those on the capital’s roads — according to City Hall predictions. Mr Khan wants to “urgently accelerate” efforts to switch from petrol and diesel vehicles, in line with his aim of London being carbon neutral by 2030.

Writing in today’s Standard, he said: “Continuing this progress is going to be key to tackling pollution levels in London as well as the climate emergency — helping us to clean up our air and bring down harmful road traffic emissions.”

He says the supply of charge points is struggling to keep up as motorists become more environmentally conscious and the Government plans to phase out new petrol and diesel cars. Electric cars currently make up three per cent of vehicles in the capital — but more than six per cent in affluent boroughs such as Westminster.

It costs £5,000 to provide a slow-fast charging point and £85,000 for a rapid or ultra-rapid charger. Even meeting only half the expected demand by 2025 — 18,500 new points — could cost up to £66 million.

One in five new cars bought by Londoners is now a ‘plug-in’

City Hall hopes the cost will be met by the private sector, but will provide public land for chargers.

Potential sites for up to 1,000 rapid chargers on land owned by City Hall or Transport for London — including on Red Routes — are being sought. This is expected to deliver an initial tranche of 100 rapid or ultra-rapid points.

TfL is seeking “expressions of interest” in locations from private charging firms. It has already spent £18 million subsidising 300 rapid points and two flagship “rapid charging hubs” in the Olympic park and at Woolwich.

A third hub is due to open in the City of London, at Baynard House, in a few weeks time, with two more planned by 2025.

There are now 16 “hubs” across London, including privately-built facilities near Heathrow, in Croydon and on the New Kent Road. There is concern London’s 10,800 public charging points are unevenly distributed — with fewer than 100 in vast suburban boroughs such as Bromley, Havering, Redbridge and Harrow.

Mr Khan hopes their delivery will become “self-sustaining” by 2030 and is seeking government help.

TfL’s director of city planning Alex Williams insisted “good progress” is being made on charging points, but he admitted that there is more work to be done.

“We need adequate publicly accessible charging structure”, he added. The Department for Transport announced this week that grants of £1,500 to help buy an electric car are being scrapped, in favour of subsidising electric vans and taxis and improving the charging network.

“The Government wants a tenfold increase in UK charging points to 300,000 — five times the number of fuel pumps — by 2030.

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)
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