Insights / Podcast: Inside track from the BVRLA

Podcast: Inside track from the BVRLA featuring Tom Lusher, Drax EV specialist

27th October 2022

At Drax, we’re proud to be an associate member of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

Tom Lusher, our EV specialist, was recently invited along to the BVRLA’s podcast, The Inside Track. Tom, along with Natalie Hughes from The Algorithm People, spoke with Catherine Bowen of the BVRLA on the state of the UK’s charging infrastructure. Listen to the podcast via all major platforms, or carry on reading for our highlights.

Podcast: Inside track from the BVRLA

What’s our infrastructure strategy?

Earlier this year the government published its EV Infrastructure Strategy. The strategy covers several topics including support for local authorities which may be given increasing responsibility for the planning and provision of charging infrastructure.

At the time of the launch, the government suggested that we'll need a minimum of 300,000 charge points by 2030.

The government also published its response to the Consumer Experience Consultation, which made proposals for improving the consumer experience at public charge points. This included measures on better pricing transparency and ease of payment.

Are we on the right path for charging infrastructure?

The EV infrastructure industry is starting to mature. While the Government is still incentivising people to switch to electric using EV charge points, they’re also now starting to consider how the long-term regulatory framework might take shape in this space.

“There’s no doubt this is a pivotal moment in how this industry develops. Broadly speaking, we’re heading in the right direction,” says Tom. “We're seeing more and more investment go into infrastructure, and that's not just public but also private.”

“That's really important, actually, that that comes in advance. It’s one of the Government’s key goals that this target number of charge points are installed ahead of demand – to provide EV drivers with the confidence that this infrastructure exists.”

Tom explains that there are several things that’ll affect whether this charge point target is met, including the progress in on-street charging and providing infrastructure to those who may not have access to a driveway.

Alternatively, if workplaces become a key place to charge a vehicle, and charging is readily available at key destinations (like hotels and shops) then demand for on-street and en-route might be less.

“These factors will all impact the number of chargers required in total, and also affect how efficiently they’re being used, too.”

How will the Government Consumer Experience Consultation drive EV infrastructure change?

Recently the Government responded to the Consumer Experience Consultation, and there are a range of measures coming forward that could really help the consumer experience.

Tom explains that introducing a minimum payment method across the public network could be very helpful.

“Being able to go to any public charger above a certain power rating and use your contactless debit or credit card to pay for that charging session could be very valuable. It removes the need for proprietary systems which could be complex and time consuming.”

Open data, another proposed measure in this consultation, will make it easier for drivers to locate charge points and understand what features and capabilities they have.

“Transparent pricing is really timely and important in this environment that we exist in at the moment with inflation.

“The idea is that more transparent pricing, probably based on pence per kWh, is introduced, making it much easier to compare prices. And if you're a fleet manager and you understand your costs better, that makes your operation a little bit smoother.”

Are we striking the right balance when it comes to deploying rapid charging?

“One of the things we commonly need to think about in terms of how we provide the right infrastructure for fleets or private motors is overcoming the immediate thought that you need a rapid charge point everywhere you go. It’s generally not needed,” Tom explains.

Tom adds that, actually, the majority of fleets will be able to electrify with Fast chargers – those that are rated between 7 and 22 kW. This is because there are many fleet vehicles that could be dwelling for several hours overnight or during the day.

“It’s possible to deliver enough electricity to recharge the battery enough to do the job you need it to do, without investing enormous sums of money in the rapid infrastructure, that also requires serious consideration of network upgrades as well.”

It’s not an exact science when it comes to balancing rapid and slower charging, but fleets can achieve a lot with slower chargers, providing there’s a solid understanding of the fleets job and there is data to back that up.

What challenges and opportunities arise from more responsibility being passed onto local authorities?

There’s a range of proposals around local authorities in the EV infrastructure strategy. And while those potential obligations are subject to a consultation at this point, there could be some interesting opportunities for not just fleets, but people using EVs more generally.

“With the knowledge that local authorities have on their local authority area, they may be able to identify some suitable locations to site that charging infrastructure,” suggests Tom. “This could in turn make charging much more convenient and affordable for consumers”.

In England, a proposed £500 million support programme, called the Local EV Infrastructure Fund, aims to provide funding to local authorities planning and delivering public charge points. This has the potential to develop holistic and well-thought through infrastructure.

What are you most excited about that’s coming next for infrastructure?

“I think it's really exciting what kind of commercial opportunities you might be able to generate as the infrastructure and the uptake of EV's accelerates,” says Tom.

“One of the things that we're doing an increasing amount of work on is optimising what we call Electric Assets. Electric Vehicles are fundamentally an asset that can be used to do a range of very interesting things when you link it up with a data-driven approach to optimisation.”

“We're also very excited about how Vehicle-to-Grid might be able to facilitate that move and how you could start to think about how that electricity could start to flow back into the grid to provide services and potentially generate revenue.”

Listen to The Inside Track from the BVRLA below.

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