The London Mayor tells Londoners to “Get ready for an electric revolution in the capital’s transport”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced details of his ambitious plan for transport in the nation’s capital. The EV Infrastructure Taskforce, established by the mayor in 2018, today released its EV Infrastructure Delivery Plan.

The ambitious plan sets out how London can achieve the mayor’s stated goal of moving to a low-emission transport infrastructure.

Twin goals: zero carbon and improved air quality

Moving to electric vehicles – which do not release harmful emissions – will improve the air quality in London.

London Mayor Khan has said, “London’s air is so dirty and polluted that it amounts to nothing less than a serious public health crisis. It breaches legal limits and blights the lives of Londoners, resulting in thousands of premature deaths every year. We are also facing a climate emergency that threatens the long-term security and wellbeing of every Londoner.”

The move to electric vehicles will also help London to meet the ambitious zero-carbon target Khan has set. The mayor has stated he wants London to be a carbon-neutral city by 2050.

Khan continued, “We need to reject the fossil fuels of the past and embrace an electric revolution in London’s transport. To truly transform the quality of our air and to tackle the climate crisis London must move away from petrol and diesel cars, with their catastrophic impact on the environment, and towards zero- emission vehicles. I want London to lead the world in this ambition, with all new cars and vans on London roads meeting these standards by 2030, not 2040 as the government is proposing.”

Putting in place the essential infrastructure

In order for goods vehicle drivers and other drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles, London must ensure the right infrastructure is in place. The taskforce, which includes industry bodies such as the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), local government associations, and commercial partners such as SSE Enterprise and Shell UK, has laid out how to develop the necessary infrastructure.

It includes a number of initiatives which the Taskforce and other industry partners will support the Mayor to progress:

  • installing the next generation of ultra-rapid charging points at London petrol stations later this year
  • delivering five flagship charging hubs, with the ability for multiple cars to quickly be charged in one place. The first of these hubs will be operational in the heart of the Square Mile by the end of the year
  • a new “one stop shop” for Londoners to request new charging infrastructure from their local authority in areas of high demand led by London Councils, making it easier for drivers to switch to electric vehicles
  • expanding electric car clubs and bringing more vehicles to market, offering greater choice to Londoners and businesses
  • new online smart tools to ensure London’s energy grid continues to keep pace with demand and to help unlock private sector investment

Khan said that giving all Londoners access to the essential infrastructure required to run and maintain an electric vehicle “is a massive operation and can only be achieved if the public and private sector come together to deliver London’s electric future.”

London must lead the way

The Mayor’s statement says London is “at the forefront of the zero-emission revolution with more than 20,000 electric vehicles, 1,700 electric taxis and Europe’s largest electric bus fleet.”

The plans announced today will follow TFL’s successful rollout of over 175 rapid charge points across the city (which can deliver a full charge in 20 to 30 minutes) and a growing network of 1,100 lamp post charging points delivered via the local boroughs.

The infrastructure policy builds upon the launch of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in Central London. ULEZ came into force from April 8, 2019 and penalises the most polluting cars, vans, motorbikes, buses, lorries and coaches.

While we welcome moves to improve air quality, the launch of ULEZ was met with some concerns from trade organisations including British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) and the FTA – mostly around the lack of financial support available to help drivers adapt. The BVRLA highlighted the issues for smaller businesses which aren’t aware of the changes or which are struggling to move to new low-emission vans and trucks, while the FTA highlighted the lack of financial support available to help businesses make the switch.

Zero-carbon goals require fundamental change

Logistics companies like Same Day Couriers Direct and other commercial and non-commercial organisations that run fleets want to do our bit to transition to a zero-carbon economy.

The FTA’s 2019 Logistics Report found that more than 70 percent of van operators intend to use electric vehicles in their fleets this year. To make this happen, the FTA is calling on the Government to invest in making electric vehicles more affordable.

Denise Beedell, Policy Manager for Vans and Urban at FTA, commented: “FTA and its members are fully committed to reducing their carbon emissions wherever possible; we are not surprised, therefore, that so many intend to use electric vehicles in their van fleets but they will need assistance from government to be able to do so.”

The Government has already introduced some measures to help. For example, the relaxation of licensing for alternative-fuel vans in April 2018 and the decision that that operators of alternatively fuelled vehicles up to 4.25 tonnes will also be exempt from HGV operator licensing, as long as they only operate domestically.

Moves like this make it easier for transport and freight companies to operate electric vehicles, but they do need to be strengthened with other measures to make it easier and more affordable to make the switch to more sustainable fleets.

In particular, vehicle subsidies, improved notification of infrastructure plans and support around the introduction of the new ULEZ’s planned for Greater London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds are required. It is for this reason, Same Day Couriers Direct welcomes the announcement of the EV Infrastructure Taskforce Delivery Plan today.

We would like to see similarly detailed plans laid out to demonstrate how the UK Government is going to meet its commitment to ensure that almost every car and van is a zero-emission vehicle by 2050.

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