Helping local authorities to think fleet

Catherine Bowen, senior policy advisor, BVRLA, urges action in the development of charging infrastructure in order to help fleet drivers meet decarbonisation targets

The question over which came first, the chicken or the egg, is a debate as old as time; an analogy that has been applied to electric vehicles since the first models started coming to market. The paradox being that people will buy more electric vehicles when the infrastructure is there, but that the infrastructure will only expand when the demand is there to justify it. An issue still present today.

2021 was another record-breaking year for electric vehicles. It appears that we have passed the tipping point for EV adoption, with the number of plug-in vehicles on UK roads only set to rise as we approach the 2030 and 2035 phase-out targets. This is consistent with what the BVRLA reported in September in its latest Road to Zero Report Card. Assessing the progress towards zero-emission fleets by EV supply, EV demand and charging infrastructure, the report broadly showed positive moves in both supply and demand. While the trajectory for infrastructure is still upwards there is still some way to go.

Regardless of what represents the chicken and the egg when considering electric vehicles, infrastructure has not come first.

We need a seismic acceleration in the delivery of charging solutions, taking us from the current situation of around 29,000 charge points into a fully supported infrastructure that can power the 11 million EVs expected on the road by 2030. Solutions need to be developed and implemented across the board, requiring extensive cooperation between those in the private sector as well as policymakers, energy companies, regional business representatives and automotive manufacturers themselves.

Fleets have always led the drive to decarbonisation and will continue to do so, yet charging strategies have been focused on individual drivers and private use cases. This approach needs to change for the network to deliver in the way it is required to.

To put a greater spotlight on the challenges facing fleets when it comes to the necessary infrastructure, the BVRLA has commissioned a study that will not only remind local authorities that fleets exist, but emphasise the crucial role they are playing in bringing EVs to our roads too. By highlighting the challenges faced by the sector, the report will encourage greater engagement with fleets and industry bodies, such as the BVRLA, so charging infrastructure plans are fit for purpose.

The report provides detailed case studies, genuine advice and tangible solutions that can be applied across the UK. It is designed to ensure fleets are at the forefront of decision-makers' minds when it comes to the planning, roll-out, and maintenance of a charging network, with collaboration at its core and arming those local authorities with the background knowledge they need to develop informed strategies.

A total of 13 recommendations are provided in the report, split into four distinct groups:

Catherine Bowen, senior policy advisor, BVRLA


Matching types of provision to emerging gaps in infrastructure: Building and development regulations are increasing the obligation for more charge points to be installed already, but more consideration needs to be given to ensure those installations are fit for purpose and benefit the biggest number of potential use cases.


Building trust in the reliability of infrastructure: Vehicle or employee downtime due to charging has the potential to have a detrimental impact on productivity and customer service. Drivers need to know that they can trust the network to meet their needs and for charge points to be reliable to ensure continuity of service and effective planning.


Ensuring consistent ease of access: Many current solutions offer different payment methods, restrict access, or do not cater to users with reduced mobility or disabilities. Access needs to be widespread and payments simple for fleets to effectively manage operations and support drivers.


Creating a future framework for decisions based on user need: This considers the ongoing role local authorities will be required to play, in conjunction with national government and private providers. Open collaboration between these parties will mean that long-term solutions can be developed in a way that benefit all road users.

We were proud to launch this report at the BVRLA’s Fleets in Charge webinar on Wednesday 16 February, ‘Untangling the Charging Conundrum’. The key findings were shared with delegates and the full report was made available afterwards.

The BVRLA is now working closely with government at a local and national level to use the report and its recommendations as part of open, collaborative discussions that will seek greater consideration being given to fleets across the UK.

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