Tanya Sinclair, Policy Director UK & Ireland at ChargePoint
This month’s Budget simultaneously pleased and infuriated environmentalists by promising long-awaited green measures whilst expanding roads and freezing fuel duty. Given all that has happened in the month since, there has been little time to reflect on its impact on the electrification of transport.
Investing in an EV remains more affordable than you may think. The Plug In Car Grant, which many feared would be axed in this budget, still offers most EV purchasers a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles through a grant the government gives buyers, via vehicle dealerships and manufacturers.
You do not need to do anything if you want to buy one of these vehicles – the dealer will include the value of the grant in the vehicle’s price. The recent budget kept the grant at a maximum for cars of £3,000, but restricted it to vehicles worth up to £50,000.
It is certainly a credit to this government’s commitment to the full electrification of the UK’s transport by 2035 that this grant has remained, however, the fact that many vehicles that are merely low polluters rather than no polluters may make some question whether this is the best way to incentivize carbon neutral driving.
Whilst many individuals and companies contemplating their first EV are aware of the grants and incentives offered for the purchase of the vehicle itself, few people are aware that there are similar schemes in place to help ensure you have somewhere to charge.
Whilst slower than using fast chargers seen on the motorway and elsewhere, charging at home or work often offers the best savings when owning an electric vehicle, often offering (depending on your electricity tariff) the possibility of transport for below 10p per mile.
The EV Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) has been in place since 2010 and the Workplace Charging Scheme since 2016. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has made it clear, however, that these grants will not last forever. From its starting level of £1000, the EV Homecharge Scheme grant has already shrunk by more than half and it was announced in the recent budget that it will further shrink to £350 on 1st April 2020.
The application process for the EV Homecharge Scheme has not been altered:
1. Complete the form demonstrating ownership or keepership of your EV and appoint a registered installer.
2. Your installer will ask some further questions about your home.
3. Success – charging station is installed.
The “Workplace Charge Scheme” (WCS) offers a similar incentive to businesses to electrify both their employee car parks and own fleets. Business customers can get up to £500 per socket (max. 20 sockets across all sites) towards the purchase and installation of charging stations for workplaces. This scheme was also altered in this year’s budget. It will change to £350 per socket and max. 40 sockets across all sites as of 1 April 2020.
The benefits are manifold: the grants enable companies to charge company cars and fleet vehicles to save on fuel and vehicle maintenance costs, shrinking their carbon footprint to meet and exceed sustainability goals. By offering EV charging, they also create a better workplace for their employees, and provide a premium service to clients, visitors and other user groups they grant access to.
This process remains the same also, applicants must:
1. Complete the grant application form
2. Your application is evaluated by OLEV
3. Success – receive your voucher code by email within 5 working days
4. Send the voucher code to the installation company
5. Once the station is installed we can then process the grant and return to the customer
These government grants won’t be here forever, as the government has made clear, but even if they are phased out there are still ways to invest in EV charging in a commercially savvy way with subscription services like my own firm, ChargePoint as a Service (CPaaS). These sorts of services offer businesses low operational exposure by bundling hardware, software, maintenance and installation, hassle free into one package.
With or without the grants, and even in the current unprecedented economic circumstances, the government is still intent on planning for the phase-out of diesel and petrol by 2035, and will continue to support EVs for the time being. So now is as good the time to invest, given that there are still grants for both vehicles and chargers, which will not last.