After such an unexpected (for most) General Election result, it’s no surprise that Theresa May followed up with a scaled-down Queen’s Speech. But within the speech, there was still one important piece of legislation mentioned that will have direct implications for the forecourt sector. That was the Automated and Electric Vehicles (AEV) Bill. One of the consequences of the outcome of the General Election was that many of the Bills that were in progress during the previous parliament had to either be reintroduced or scrapped altogether. The AEV Bill is an example of the former, essentially consisting of a copy and paste of the Vehicle Technology Aviation Bill (VTAB) that had reached Committee Stage in the House of Commons before the election.
Within the Bill, there will be a number of proposals on better legislation for automated vehicles and plans for infrastructure to support the roll-out of more electric vehicles, but the measure that we’re most concerned about refers specifically to the provision of electric charging points on petrol forecourts. The VTAB Bill stated that large fuel retailers and service area operators may be required to provide public charging points for electric vehicles, and we expect the same proposal to be included in the new AEV Bill.
ACS gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee earlier this year on the proposals, raising concerns about the cost, practicality and demand for electric charging points. Retailers estimate that charging points cost between £50,000-£60,000 to install on forecourts, and that for many, further investment would be needed on the forecourt on things like seating areas and food-to-go to retain customers that are charging their vehicles. This is an expensive proposition, given that the demand for charging away from the home is not significant. There are currently more charging points around the UK than there are electric vehicles, with just 12% of electric vehicle owners using public charging points either daily or weekly.
We do not believe that the government should be forcing retailers to install charging points and we will make this case when the details of the new Bill are published.