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THE GOVERNMENT plans to roll out a new “iconic” electric car charger across the road network from 2022, with the ambition of making them as recognisable as London buses and red post boxes.

Unveiled by transport secretary Grant Shapps at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the new charger has been designed by the Royal College of Art (RCA) in partnership with PA Consulting. Details of its charging capacity and dimensions have not yet been revealed, nor has the government outlined its plans for a nationwide roll-out, but the Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles (OZEV) – which commissioned the design – claims the priority for the project is “putting ease of use and accessibility at the heart of EV charging”.

The announcement follows concerns voiced by motorists over the lack of charging facilities nationwide. A survey by Venson found 63% of motorists were calling for greater investment by government in public charging points.

Consumer opinion garnered by Venson throughout 2021 has confirmed that a lack of confidence in the UK’s charging infrastructure and charging capacity has halted plans for an EV adoption for many. 68% of drivers would be more likely to make the switch to an EV if they knew they could conduct a rapid 30-minute charge at an electric forecourt rather than the inconvenience of charging their vehicle at home.

Venson backs OZEV claims that the project will go a long way to making EV charging more convenient for all. Marketing Director Alison Bell said: “The move will be applauded by motorists who remain uncertain about the practicalities of charging EV batteries, including charging times and home charging.

“Whilst it is uncertain if the UK government plans to standardise the new ‘iconic’ design for use by all EV charger manufacturers, or how else it could form part of the government’s wider plans to electrify the transport industry, its ambitions are a big step in the right direction to bolster both consumer confidence and support.

“Concerns of company car drivers however also need to be addressed, with one in four we surveyed calling for the transport secretary to introduce new legislation to encourage businesses to move to fully electric company cars and commercial vehicles within the next five years. These calls have yet to be answered.

“However, the Government’s recommendations to introduce a statutory obligation for local authorities to plan and deliver an EV infrastructure in their area – a proposal that was supported by 43% of motorists we surveyed – combined with an ever-improving battery performance, the falling cost of EVs and now, an iconic charger designed to engender pride amongst motorists, will help to promote the technology as a viable choice for private and company car owners.”

Meanwhile, a new kerbside electric vehicle (EV) charging webinar has been announced by the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP) as fleet interest in the subject soars.

Taking place at 9am on Wednesday December 15, it will feature AFP chair Paul Hollick leading a discussion featuring members of the industry body’s new Kerbside Charging Group.

This includes fleet managers from many major organisations who are committed to rapid electrification of their operations including Royal Mail, Centrica, OpenReach, ISS, DEFRA, Kier, Mitie, VM O2, Marston Holdings, Capita, National Grid, SSE, Speedy Hire, J Murphy and Clarion Housing.

Hollick, said: “Since the formation of the new group in October, we have received massive interest from all kinds of fleets. It is no exaggeration to say that we are seeing interest in kerbside charging soar.

“There is a fundamental reason for this – for many businesses, it is the single largest hurdle to EV adoption, especially when it comes to electric vans. If a driver lives in an apartment or a terraced house with no driveway, the installation of kerbside charging is crucial.

“The group believes that although it is generally believed 40% of drivers do not have a driveway, that for commercial vehicle drivers, this figure is closer to 70%.”

Hollick said that the key task facing the group – and the likely core of the discussion at the webinar – was the creation of a national map showing where kerbside charging was needed that can be used as a guide for future provision.

Paul added: “We are in the process of a massive data gathering exercise among operators from both within and outside the AFP to gather postcode information for potential and existing EV drivers who need access to a kerbside charger.

“This is, we believe, an essential task and should open the door to much more widespread fleet EV adoption, much faster, than would occur if government and charging companies were simply trying to estimate where provision was required.

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