Major British companies unite to electrify UK transport

Seven major British companies, including the operators of some of the largest commercial vehicle fleets in the country, have joined forces to help accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) across the UK.

The seven firms, which include BP, BT, Direct Line Group, Royal Mail, ScottishPower, Severn Trent and Tesco, are working together as the Electric Vehicle Fleet Accelerator (EVFA), have outlined a series of urgent actions needed from both industry and government to deliver the targets.

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The EVFA grew from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Build Back Better Business Council. It brings together CEOs of companies that own and operate some of the largest van fleets in the UK and companies involved with infrastructure, EV charging, retail and insurance and repair.

The report details how supportive government policy could help unlock private sector investment of £50 billion in infrastructure and electric fleets in the UK over the next five years.

If the government delivers on this agenda, the EVFA members have committed to converting the fleets involved to electric vehicles by 2030 and to buying British. The members will buy 70,000 British-built vans by 2030 or sooner. They hope this statement of intent will act as a stimulus and help spur the investment decisions needed to develop EV van manufacturing in the UK.

The EVFA members believe electrification of fleet vehicles can have wider benefits beyond their businesses, catalysing the mass adoption of EVs in the UK. The upgrading of the grid and expanding national charging networks that will result will build wider confidence in using electric vehicles.

As fleets and businesses account for 60 percent of new vehicle registrations, their electrification will also build and drive an active second-hand market, which is the main vehicle market for most consumers.

If the infrastructure and frameworks are put in place to enable this, the companies believe wider customer demand can shift towards electric vehicles sooner than is currently expected.

The EVFA’s full 35-page report can be seen here. It outlines detailed recommendations for action, immediately and over this next decade and by both industry and Government. It is focused on four key areas:

  1. Future-proofing the electricity network infrastructure; ensuring that price controls and funding measures reflect the scale of the challenge, the need to invest in the network ahead of need, and support levelling up with investment in areas the market doesn’t reach.
  2. Enabling the UK-wide rollout of charging infrastructure; fast-tracking EV charging infrastructure in the planning system, aligning with local authorities to unlock land for charging infrastructure, and setting clear funding frameworks.
  3. Overcoming demand obstacles; increasing capital support for grid reinforcement costs, introducing minimum standards for reliability, safety and interoperability, and improving access to public charging networks.
  4. Expanding the supply of UK-made vehicles; providing strong demand signals to OEMs from fleets, setting increasing requirements for zero-emissions vehicles for manufacturers, and incentivising secondhand EV market with VAT exemption.

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, said: “I wholeheartedly welcome this commitment by leading employers to fully electrify their van fleets by 2030. This announcement will be a major boost to British vehicle production.

“The government is committed to providing the electric charging points and other infrastructure the UK needs as we build back greener.”

Bernard Looney, bp chief executive, said: “Government and businesses working together can act as a catalyst to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles throughout the UK.

“This report from the EVFA highlights the points where Government policy can unlock private sector investment to deliver the necessary charging infrastructure, overcome fleet demand obstacles and create vehicle manufacturing capacity.

Simon Thompson, Royal Mail CEO, said: “We are proud to be part of this initiative to accelerate the electrification of van fleets across the UK. With our ‘feet on the street’ network we already have the lowest reported CO2e emissions per parcel of any major UK delivery company.

“We want to go further through our investment in electric vehicles. With the right policy and infrastructure in place, Government and industry can turbo-charge the faster rollout of electric vehicles built in the UK

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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