KEY LEARNINGS FROM OUR NECA FORUM
At our forum in Newcastle on January 23rd, we discussed the many perceived barriers of widespread electric vehicle (EV) uptake. Key speakers offered industry insights to our audience – a varied number of EV-interested parties representing ten local authorities, a number of local taxi drivers and taxi firms, local car dealers, and many others.
WATCH THIS SPACE
The morning opened with fantastic presentations from our key speakers. Stay tuned – in the next couple of weeks we will be publishing highlights from those presentations to share all the juicy bits with you!
OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME
Our first discussions and networking sessions raised many good points around the common barriers that currently prohibit the widespread uptake of EVs. Concerns surrounding range anxiety and a lack of general knowledge of EVs highlights the importance of continued education for increased driver awareness. Ageing infrastructure and planning requirements for new installations appear to affect councils’ abilities to make rapid changes, but local authority fleets should be setting the precedent (we agree!). A general lack of rapid charging facilities, and a limited number of EV models means widespread uptake is inhibited, so how can the EV market appeal to, and accommodate a wider audience? With EV demand set to drastically increase on the not-too-distant horizon, for many the question is: is it better to make a purchase now, or wait for improved options in the future?
Barrier – many local authorities have written a 78 page strategy document for EVs. A strategy this long can be overwhelming and hard to deliver. Solution – Instead, local authorities need to focus on low hanging fruit and short-term goals, so the wider public can see that changes are happening, and feel encouraged to make the switch.
Whatever the barrier, whether perceived, historic, or valid, the overwhelming response from this forum was that it is time to act, and in a manner which is achievable and understandable. Rather than allow these barriers to stop us in our tracks, let’s look to the opportunities we can control, and use these to drive forward for positive change.
USING WHAT WE HAVE TODAY TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
We are seeing fantastic examples across the country of cities taking it upon themselves to encourage greater adoption of EVs, and local authorities who are providing the necessary incentives and infrastructure. Refer back to our Spotlight on Dundee, to read how they are proving that EVs are a plausible solution to air pollution.
Barrier – Taxi ranks do not have the facilities for charging / resting. Solution – Install charging hubs with seating and resting facilities to make it more appealing. Wireless charging has also been highlighted as a good option for taxi ranks.
Whilst it is difficult to see the need for a great number of charging facilities, with so few EVs on the road, this is a sure-fire way to demonstrate to drivers that making the transition is possible. Installing chargers in visible locations, such as car parks, allows the non-EV driver to easily visualise where they could charge, and therefore, how they could make the transition. Furthermore, chargers in car parks generate revenue for businesses by adding value.
Perhaps most importantly, it was agreed by all of our audience that more local authorities should be taking the lead and demonstrating just how feasible EVs are, by incorporating them into their own fleets.
With EV champions leading the way, we can hope to see EVs becoming normalised, helping to change mindsets, dispel myths, and drive greater EV uptake.