New research by charge point operator Believ says complex red tape, poor grid access & obstructive planning rules are Britain’s three biggest policy ‘potholes’, throwing needless rocks under the nation’s progress to an EV-driven future.

While firms charge ahead in decarbonising their commercial fleets by installing on-site EV power points, – with some offering facilities to the wider public – , a new survey from Believ quantifies both take-up & its obstacles across some key sectors of business.

Six million commercial vehicles travel Britain’s roads each year. As of spring 2024 though, only 1% of vans, 8% of company cars, and fewer than 1% of HGVs are electric.  Increasing this proportion is a vital part of achieving the government’s Net Zero ambition by 2050.

The trading name of Liberty Charge, Believ feeds pure renewable electricity into its devices.

Its new poll of more than 200 brands & organisations finds that 88% are already installing EV charging points. Over half – 57% – plan to double their existing points and/or charging capacity by 2028, driven by a desire reduce CO2 emissions and fulfil wider environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.

Nearly 70% of the survey’s respondents say they understand the advantage of having their own charging facilities to attract new customers. A fraction more – 72% –  are mindful of charging revenues to recoup the costs of upfront installation. Stores, hospitality hubs such as restaurants and bars and other leisure attractions head these early-adopters.

But this strong motivation is snagged, say Believ’s respondents, by major hurdles.

Seven out of ten of them say projects are delayed by the slow pace, high cost and complexity of working with electricity companies to upgrade the local power supply feeding intended EV points. 11% categorise DNOs as a “significant barrier”.

The same share of firms, particularly chains operating dispersed outlets, complain that navigating inconsistent planning laws across the country is complex and confusing. Over a quarter, 27%, struggle to received sufficient support from councils, themselves often over-stretched. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of businesses say they need specialist help, such as paying planning consultants.

If businesses can speed up installation of their own on-site charge points, then they would reduce their partial (58%) or total (14%) reliance on grid-enabled national networks, the survey finds.

Some respondents told Believ’s pollsters that sales or delivery vehicles now spend more time charging or travelling to charge points than being used productively. Almost one-fifth, 17%, were concerned about missing deliveries or meeting deadlines.

The additional fuel consumption, vehicle wear and tear and planning to optimise travel routes are also increasing operational costs, at a time when they should – and need – to be falling.

Greater collaboration is needed between the public & private sectors, according to Believ CEO Guy Bartlett

“Businesses are being thwarted by factors where greater collaboration with charge point operators (CPOs) would help accelerate the rollout of EV charging infrastructure”, said Bartlett.

“The best CPOs have the knowledge and expertise which many businesses seek about installing charge points and navigating the complexities of planning laws across the country”, Bartlett reasoned.

National & local government can also help solve many issues that businesses face, such as easing access to the national grid and better targeted funding for national public charging infrastructure to areas that are not commercially viable.

The Believ boss went on: “The national government’s promises, such as the £70m investment at COP28, however, and the national rapid charging network are yet to be delivered and are needed urgently. We must act now to facilitate sustainable transport and deliver cleaner air for all.”

Believ’s researchers polled 255 decision makers in sectors including car park operators & higher education.  Read the research here.


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