The number of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations in the UK are set to overtake traditional petrol stations by August 2020 following an announcement by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement.
The Government has set aside £390 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund to boost battery vehicles and driverless technology. The £390 million funding, includes:
- £100 million investment in testing infrastructure for driverless cars;
- £150 million to provide at least 550 new electric and hydrogen buses, reduce the emissions of 1,500 existing buses and support taxis to become zero emission; and
- £80 million to install more charging points for ultra-low emission vehicles.
The announcement follows the Government’s prediction that Britain needs 9% of cars sold by 2020 to be ultra-low emission to be on track to hit its legally mandated emissions targets by 2020, so the announcement on additional charging points is viewed as being central to meeting these targets.
3% of cars sold in Britain last year were alternative fuel models – primarily plug-in hybrid and electric cars – although sales have risen 23% so far this year and following the Autumn Statement growing numbers of analysts are predicting demand for EVs could accelerate sharply in the coming years as upfront costs continue to fall and battery ranges increase to a point where it becomes more cost effective to operate a zero emission vehicle than a traditional car.
However, dwindling government support for renewable energy production has led critics to question the role of EVs if clean energy is not used to power them.
The announcement is not only welcomed by the fast-expanding green car sector; the hospitality and retail sectors – particularly those strategically located off major highways – are also predicted to experience increased revenues as a result of the additional custom generated from EV users whilst charging their vehicles.