Councils in charge: making the case for electric charging investment

This publication is intended as a guide for councillors to help them understand the current landscape for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and engage with their officers, colleagues and the wider public with more confidence.

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The Government’s Road to Zero strategy has set an ambition that no new conventional petrol or diesel cars will be sold by 2040, and there is growing pressure for the ambition to be met sooner. Meeting this ambition is going to require a step change in the availability of electric vehicles (EVs) charging infrastructure, also known as chargepoints. Chargepoints will have to become as ubiquitous as petrol stations to charge most vehicles.

Although it’s difficult to say with certainty how the technology will progress over the next ten years, it seems likely that we will need a network of charging infrastructure to enable drivers to top up their battery when they are out and about and for use by drivers without off-street parking and therefore a chargepoint at home. However, the bulk of charging will take place at homes and workplaces where vehicles are parked for longer periods and because it is generally cheaper and more convenient.

We do not anticipate that councils either want, or need, to become the long-term default provider for electric vehicle chargepoints. For the transition to be successful, the chargepoint market will have to strengthen. This is the only way we will reach the level of coverage envisioned by Road to Zero. However, many councils are already showing that they have a role to play in catalysing this market and helping in its early stages.