One of the key planks in the recent Budget was Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s pledge to support the expansion of the fast-charging network for electric vehicles, giving EV charging £500 million over the next five years.
The aim is that no driver will be more than 30 miles from a rapid-charging station.
The news comes as the first of the UK’s first EV charging forecourts with dozens of fast chargers and relaxation lounges for drivers is expected to open later this year.
Just like traditional patrol and diesel garages, refreshments will be available and there will be retail areas. The first is expected to open in Essex.
Why is the EV charging expansion so important?
As of April 2020, there were 11,312 electric vehicle charging sites across the UK with 31,596 connectors (according to Zap-Map).
Of those, 2,168 are rapid-charging sites with 7,697 connectors.
A quarter of those, 25.5%, are in Greater London, with 13% in Scotland, 3.2% in Wales, 3.6% in the North East, and 5.9% in the West Midlands.
At present, there is a far higher proportion of EV charging sites in the South East of England than anywhere else in the country.
So, there’s a great deal of work to be done to ensure every area of the UK has access to EV charging and that more people have access to rapid charging.
Many people would like to swap to an electric car but would find it difficult to charge it at home, especially in areas with a high number of terraced streets with on-street parking.
Many fleet operators would also like to swap their petrol and diesel cars for electric vehicles but need the reassurance that more rapid charging will soon be available for drivers on the road wherever they are in the UK.
What other measures about electric vehicles were contained in the Budget?
It’s clear that the UK government is pushing ahead with moves to phase out new petrol and diesel cars.
The Budget report confirmed that the government is in consultations about bringing forward the 2040 phase-out date for the sale of new diesel and petrol and cars.
This will mean “a combination of spending, regulation and taxes”, the report warned.
To meet stringent emissions targets, the report also says that vehicle excise duty will be used to increase taxes on vehicles with internal combustion engines, especially those which produce larger amounts of CO2.
The Budget also extended the plug-in car grant until 2022/23.
This grant cuts the price of all electric cars by £3,500. The Budget provided the scheme with £403 million.
There are similar moves planned for taxis, vans, and motorbikes.
At present, this grant applies to vehicles which can travel at least 70 miles on electric power, and which have emissions lower than 50g/km.
These are all-electric or pure-electric vehicles. Plug-in hybrids and other cars in the same category don’t receive this grant but do have substantial tax benefits, especially for company drivers.
If your car is zero emissions but costs more than £40,000, you will also be exempt from the annual £320 VED for cars in the expensive car category.
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