BT openreach electric

The UK Electric Fleets Coalition (UKEFC), run by international non-profit Climate Group, is urging the government to ensure the UK’s charging network can support the ambition of businesses shifting to EVs.

Twenty-one leading businesses have backed the group’s call to the government by lending their support to the UKEFC’s latest policy paper. Taking these steps, they argue, will help maintain momentum in the UK’s EV transition.

The Coalition says that 30% of UK households don’t have access to off-street parking, meaning they require kerbside infrastructure to charge their vehicles. Currently, planning rules, lack of local authority action and lack of data and information all contribute to a sluggish roll-out of on-street charging.

The UKEFC says for company drivers who take their vehicles home, the inability to charge due to lack of off-street parking is a major barrier to further EV uptake as it means they can’t charge their vehicles overnight. Without the government recognising the vital role kerbside charging infrastructure must play, UK businesses cannot invest in EVs at the speed and scale required to meet their own commitments.

With the majority of new vehicle purchases going into company fleets, UK businesses play a key role in the transition, and are apparently ready to lead. The Coalition says they need clarity and certainty from government to help them as they ramp up investment in EVs, such as the zero emission vehicle mandate now confirmed as applying to sales of vehicles from next year.

Sandra Roling, director of transport at Climate Group, comments: “The UK has shown strong leadership on EVs, but it now needs to stay the course, and keep going further, faster. Our paper sets out clearly the steps the government can take today to help businesses fully ramp up investment in EVs.

“Businesses need clear signals of continued leadership from government to enable their investments. We welcomed clarity around 2024’s zero emission vehicle mandate, but this followed the disappointing announcement that the phase-out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars has been pushed back from 2030 to 2035.

“With one in six new cars sold in the UK already being zero emission models, we now need to create the conditions to complete the full transition. The vast majority of new vehicles in the UK are purchased by businesses like our UKEFC signatories, who alone have already made ambitious commitments to transition over 750,000 vehicles to electric by 2030.”

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, added: “With over 29,000 vans, we have the second largest commercial fleet in the UK and our engineers travelled some 280 million miles last year alone to build and maintain our network. We know that our fleet has a negative impact on the environment and we’re committed to switching to a zero emissions fleet by 2031. It’s the right thing to do for our customers, business and the environment.

“We’ve purchased 2,800 electric vans and installed thousands of chargers at our engineers’ homes so far. But like other businesses, we continue to face challenges including the lack of public charging infrastructure and off street parking which means that some of our engineers can’t charge their vans at home. Therefore it’s now crucial that government steps up to the challenge and ensures the charging network can support UK’s switch to electric”.