The new Environment Bill first brought forward by Boris Johnson’s government in October 2019 has bound the UK government to a commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2030. With the introduction of electric vehicles into the mainstream seen as key to achieving this goal, initiatives being undertaken by firms like Birmingham based Mobility Vehicle Hire could be critical.
Founded in 2009, Mobility Vehicle Hire is a provider of standard and specialist vehicles that meet a range of differing business needs. To help reduce its own environmental impact, founder Jagjeet Kudhail told The Parliamentary Review how it began adding electric vehicles to its fleet in 2018.
Kudhail said: “We are constantly looking at expanding into other areas. We added the first electric vehicles to our fleet during late 2018 and we hope this will be the first step towards embracing future technology as we continue to grow”.
The UK is already in the midst of an electric vehicle transition. Almost three times as many electric vehicles were registered in the country in July 2019 than at the same stage the previous year, while new diesel car registrations were down by 22 per cent for the same period.
Although the transition to electric vehicles has presented firms with an environmental and financial opportunity, and that mainstream use of electric vehicles in the comg years will be vital to reach net-zero, gradual transitioning in the same vein as Mobility Vehicle Hire in the here and now is the most viable way of changing over. A shift toward electric vehicles en masse at this stage is confronted by numerous obstacles.
The initial cost of purchasing electric models is high, availability of models is limited and there is a lack of local and national infrastructure to charge such vehicles.
Indeed, a report published by Capital Economics last year indicated that 25 million electric vehicle charging points will eventually be required to support the full-scale electric vehicle transition that will be needed for the UK to hit its climate change targets.
The report also estimates that £48.5 billion of investment will be needed to upgrade the electricity network to accommodate the demand of a greater number of electric cars.
One issue is that responsibility for installing and maintaining public charging points in towns and cities often falls upon local authorities, who are already struggling financially in the wake of austerity measures. Ensuring that these local councils are given the resources to operate charging stations is an issue of importance.
Meanwhile, the poor quality of public charging facilities on motorways is a further issue. Green energy company Ecotricity currently holds the motorway charging monopoly, via a commercial agreement which prevents other firms from installing and operating electric chargers at service stations.
The Committee on Climate Change has estimated that there will need to be 214,100 public charging points to help support the electric vehicle transition and hit the 2050 net-zero goal. As of last year when the report was written, the majority of the 250,000 charging points currently operational in the country are privately run.
Businesses are undoubtedly willing and able to chip into the electric vehicle transition, but more action from the government is needed to support the changeover in the long-term and allow firms to build on this initial progress. Without this intervention, it is possible that the net-zero carbon goal for 2050 could be jeopardised.