What is ‘Charge Up Britain’?

Electric vehicles – EVs – are changing the nature of the transport debate in the UK. Easier to drive, quieter and less polluting than conventional cars, they will soon have the same range and be cheaper to buy and maintain. In short, they are an important factor in creating a low carbon future for the country.

Watch Commissioner Bridget Rosewell talk about the Charge Up Britain campaign:

Why is it important to Charge Up Britain?

With costs falling and new models coming onto the market, new car and van sales could easily reach 100 per cent electric by 2030; but that will only happen if a nationwide, electric vehicle charging network is in place to support it. There are positive signs that consumers are switching away from diesel and petrol vehicles: last year saw a 21 per cent increase in electric and hybrid vehicle sales. But ensuring electric vehicles go mainstream means overcoming “range anxiety” – the driver’s fear of being stuck on the roadside without any power.

Action is being taken: government grants are already available for home, workplace and on-street residential charge points, and Budget 2017 announced a new £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund, including £200 million of investment from the private sector. New charge points are being built across the country: from 2,880 points in 2012 to 14,160 points in 2017.

However, this is not enough. With the majority of charge points likely to be slow and smart, having a core network of visible rapid chargers in place could significantly increase the pace of uptake. The National Infrastructure Assessment highlighted that of 145 urban areas in Britain with populations above 50,000, 52 were not served by a rapid charger.

Plugging the gap

Ahead of the Spending Review and the publication of the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, the Commission is highlighting the need to Charge Up Britain in the media, online and with stakeholders, to encourage wider discussion about the need for a national charging network. In a comment piece in The Telegraph on 15 July, Chair Sir John Armitt considered the challenge of achieving net zero carbon emissions and highlighted the need for a national rapid charging network as a key component in meeting this major infrastructure challenge.

Sir John was also interviewed on the Today programme on 5 July on the importance of charging infrastructure to encouraging drivers to switch to electric vehicles, following the announcement of a major investment by Jaguar Land Rover in EVs manufacturing in the UK. Elsewhere, in The Times, Bridget Rosewell set out how Britain can become an electric vehicle country by 2030. In a letter to The Guardian she highlighted the importance of the right charging infrastructure to ‘Jump-start the electric revolution’, while the Daily Mail highlighted the need for charging infrastructure in this article on Sir John Armitt’s ‘four tests’ letter to the Chancellor. The Times also used Commission data to show how ‘Towns need rapid chargers if drivers are to go electric’, highlighting the lack of rapid chargers in 42 urban areas with populations above 50,000.

The July episode of the Infra[in]structure podcast series by the Commission’s Young Professionals Panel  explores the development of electric vehicles and their implications for future charging and roads infrastructure in the UK: listen here. At the start of July, the government made a public commitment “to build a high speed electric vehicle charging infrastructure nationally“, and has also announced its intention to introduce legislation requiring all new homes to have a charging point as standard.

Find out more

If you are interested in supporting Charge Up Britain or want to know more, get in touch with our communications team at press@nic.gov.uk. More information on the Commission’s recommendations on charging infrastructure for EVs is available here.