Forecourt Trader - 30 years at the heart of the fuel retailing community

Merril Boulton: editor

The electric agenda seems to be pushing along at a high rate of knots at least as far as the headlines are concerned. Just this week PRA chairman Brian Madderson has twice given evidence to MPs on the subject. He first appeared as a witness before a committee of MPs following the first reading in the House of Commons of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill (see News Extra page 10). This will give the government powers to make it compulsory for public charging points to be installed at 'large fuel retailers' and service stations. Of course there is no definition of what 'large' is at this stage does it mean the size of plot, fuel sales or size of the company, as in a group with a national network? Which was precisely Brian's point.

Asked what would incentivise 'large' retailers to invest, his response was 'funding', as it would be hard to make such a considerable investment, without some knowledge of what the returns if any would be.

Next up and more to the point for our sector was the inquiry into electric charging infrastructure being conducted by the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Select Committee. The PRA is calling for a market-led development of the market, rather than retailers being forced to install charging equipment that could quickly be superseded. Sounds like a much more sensible proposition although admittedly it's a chicken and egg situation. The government wants to push the use of electric vehicles, but it will have an uphill struggle if there's nowhere to recharge them.

The market is in such early stages, but looks like it's developing technologically very quickly; as are motorists mindsets.

Sales of diesel cars are nose-diving, and sales of electric vehicles are rising, although, even so, they represent just 1.8% of the new car market. Instinctively you'd feel like hanging back on such a major investment until the future is clearer to avoid expensive mistakes.

Interestingly there are just 465 electric charging points on 225 forecourts out of a total of nearly 14,000 charging points in the UK. Wonder how quickly that will change?

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Weekly retail fuel prices: 4 December 2017
RegionDieselLPGSuper ULUL
East123.58130.62120.93
East Midlands123.16130.32120.77
London123.2559.90131.38120.75
North East122.35132.49120.16
North West122.98129.97120.61
Northern Ireland121.8469.90128.03119.82
Scotland123.3251.80128.38120.40
South East123.7567.90131.79121.27
South West123.43131.64120.92
Wales122.8253.70129.45120.15
West Midlands122.7465.40130.54120.28
Yorkshire & Humber122.9061.90132.25120.59

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Are you concerned at the speed of change towards 'electrification' and the pressure to install expensive electric vehicle charging equipment before the market is really ready for it?