Which? study says consumers have key role to play in the transition to EVs

Thu 17 February 2022 View all news

A new report from Which? says that consumers have an essential role to play in the transition to electric vehicles, and that alongside efforts to reduce car journeys, switching to a zero-emission electric vehicle (EV) at the right time will be an important change to reduce emissions. Meanwhile, the motor industry trade body SMMT has also published a 'seven-point plan' aimed at boosting the UK's EV charging infrastructure. 

Which? says that currently only around 40% of drivers have indicated an intent to buy an EV and that they identify a number of barriers which put them off switching. Their survey found that three of the top five perceived barriers to EV ownership for consumers are related to charging .

Consequently, Which? says that consumers need to be empowered to take this vital step with drivers having confidence that EVs and the charging infrastructure will be able to meet their needs.

The consumer champion says that, currently, the roll-out of public charging infrastructure is not happening quickly enough, and provision varies significantly across the UK. 

The report sets out a series of strategies that it recommends the UK government and devolved administrations should adopt. These include:

  • Setting out a plan to expand on-street charging options. Plans should be set out to work with local authorities (LAs) and charge point companies to ensure that on-street public charging is readily available for those who need it.
  • Setting out a plan to expand the en-route charging network, coordinating with the other governments where appropriate. In England, the Rapid Charging Fund (RCF) should be rolled out quickly and used to address cold spots in rural and remote areas as well as to support expansion on motorways and major roads.
  • Moving forward with proposals to ensure effective competition between charge point operators (CPOs) at motorway service areas (MSAs), in line with the recent Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) market study recommendations.
  • Clarifying the responsibilities of local authorities and ensuring comprehensive guidance and support are provided.
  • Ensuring funding is targeted at areas where the market is not delivering. Strategies should set out the UK and devolved governments’ plans to work with providers to identify suitable financing, for areas where the market is not delivering charge points at a sufficient pace to meet current and future demand.
  • Moving forward with government plans to mandate accessibility standards for public charge points. 
  • Moving forward with plans to require CPOs at certain sites to offer open access charging (as opposed to chargers restricted to users of a certain car brand, for example), and these requirements should be extended to all public charge points.

The report calls on governments to monitor the availability of charging plugs and, if the industry coalesces around a single standard that this doesn't unreasonably constrain the abilityof users of other types of plug to charge. It also urges the simplification and standardisation of charging systems calling on the UK Government to move forward with plans to regulate for more and simpler payment interoperability.

For more details and to see the full set of recommendations, follow this link.  

The Society of Motor Manufacturers' 'seven-point plan' includes a call to put the consumer at the centre of infrastructure policy and planning and for the delivery of a national plan to provide consumers with the right number of chargers in the right places.  SMMT also calls for the establishment of a new regulator ("Ofcharge") to ensure that charging is affordable, accessible and easy. The body would also be responsible for overseeing a proposed mandate setting legally binding targets to ensure an abundance of chargepoints in every part of the UK.

SMMT's plan calls for a 'right to charge' for drivers of all electric vehicles, in all regions and from all backgrounds. It calls for additional, ring-fenced support for local authorities and innovative public-private partnerships to de-risk investment.  

SMMT says that the electricity system must rapidly decarbonise to ensure that all electric cars are rechargeable with 'green' electricity.

Note: The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, which is convened by Zemo Partnership, is working closely with government and the widest range of key stakeholders to optimise the efficiency and success of the transition to electrification in road transport. The Taskforce is currently working towards the publication of its Phase Three reports which will address many of the issues raised by the Which? and SMMT contributions. Watch out for announcements from the Taskforce coming soon about publication and dissemination. 

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