As we move towards a low emissions vehicle future; how do we ensure that there is wide access to this new technology? The most obvious barrier that we see is one of cost and it is important that we foster a market where second hand EVs are normal and that prices are competitive with where petrol and diesel vehicles are now. Less obvious but no less important is the following question: How do we ensure wide access to charging infrastructure whether you live in a terrace in Otley, a large multi-occupancy building in town, a semi-rural village or in a council house in the outer areas?
There are really two parts to this answer, and it is important to remember that solutions are being hypothesised and tested as well as being considered by policy makers. The first part is that we look at widely available public charging infrastructure. Leeds is a leader in this regard. As well as being a local authority with the largest number of full electric vehicles (43), it is rapidly increasing its EV charge point infrastructure with having 74 being installed on the corporate estate, with 30 of those being fitted in the last financial year alone and in Otley we have seen the installation of a point at Licks carpark which I hope to be the first of many within the town. I have been lobbying local supermarkets to install rapid charging infrastructure as well as at Leeds Bradford Airport. We know that alongside cost, charging anxiety is the biggest barrier to the purchase of ultra-low emission vehicles and it is important that we see publicly available charge points appear visibly across our city. It is also worth noting the ULEV parking permit scheme that has been introduced in the city centre to add extra incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles.
The second part is, as you say, how do we provide the greatest possible access for home charging infrastructure. This is a lot more complex. For those with driveways it is a lot easier to fit the necessary equipment and there are grants available from the council to do so now. For those who have on street parking, we could look to Hackney Council, who are currently installing charge points within lampposts and have an ambition to roll this out across all residential streets in the borough. This technology is still within its infancy and it is likely that to roll something like that out everywhere, there would need to be some significant modifications made to the cabling.
In short, there are no set-in stone solutions in place yet, but I have confidence that with continued investment, public interest and political will, we will see the proliferation of charging infrastructure that will trigger the age of ultra-low emission vehicles.