COP28 deal: good COP for EVs, bad COP for petrol and diesel

Government promises millions in additional funding to boost the number of rapid electric vehicle chargers.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

After a nerve-wracking wait, nearly 200 countries at the COP28 climate summit have signed a joint pledge to reduce global consumption of fossil fuels, sending a warning signal to SMEs to switch their commercial fleets to electric vehicles (EVs).

As aid, Transport Secretary, Mark Harper has simultaneously announced a £70 million boost for EV charging infrastructure to accelerate the UK’s transition to Net Zero.

Poor availability of EV chargers is just one of the barriers that has prevented SMEs from investing in greener transport. In September, the prime minister’s U-turn on delaying the ban on the production of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035 dealt another blow.

Small business fleet managers are now cautiously celebrating, as the new EV charge point pilot scheme puts the UK back on track towards an improved electric network – for now.

What is the EV charge point pilot scheme?

Unveiled on COP28 Transport Day in Dubai, the new “EV charge point pilot scheme” includes investment in up to 10 trial sites at motorway service stations in England. The electricity grids at these “strategic locations” will be upgraded in order to facilitate a rapid rollout of EV charger technology.

The announcement will be welcomed by small businesses, as green courier and transport options become increasingly attractive amongst consumers. Each charge point can cost £1,000 to purchase; a vast enough sum without adding in today’s economic downturn.

Fleet managers currently rely heavily on grants such as the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) to get a discount on the hefty installation fees associated with EV charge points. The WCS covers up to 75% of these costs (inclusive of VAT).

However, these can only be installed if the company owns a dedicated space for off-street parking. For those making long journeys to deliver or transport goods, a strong electric network is paramount.

Driving away range anxiety

The driving range of electric vans varies considerably depending on the specific model, battery size, and driving conditions. However, in general, electric vans can travel between 120 and 300 miles (193 and 482 kilometres) on a single charge.

The government says the new funding will address the need for a highly visible and dependable longer-distance charging network. This will help drivers feel confident in EVs, reducing range anxiety (concerns a battery will run out of power before a charging point is reached.).

In a press release, Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “This £70 million pilot scheme is the starting point and sends a message to consumers and industry that we are investing wisely and rapidly to grow the future of transport in the UK.”

Too good to be true?

The new pilot scheme forms part of the government’s ambitious rapid charging fund (RCF). Announced in 2020, the £950m fund was reportedly designed to accelerate industry’s own investments in transport decarbonisation.

At the time, the Government said it was targeting a goal of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023

However, research by the RAC in May this year revealed that less than a quarter of the 119 motorway services had achieved the target number of chargers to serve the UK’s estimated 760,000 battery electric vehicles, raising questions about how realistic this aim is.

In this context, the new pilot scheme could be seen as an attempt at course correction for the UK’s journey to 100% electric vans and cars.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top