Written evidence from Carbon Copy (ELV0041)


[Abbreviations: Electric Vehicle (EV); Internal Combustion Engine Vehicle (ICEV); Alternatively Fueled Vehicle (AFV); Eco-fuels (e-fuels).]

About Carbon Copy

Carbon Copy is a UK charity that helps drive more big-thinking local action to protect us from climate breakdown and to defend nature. The Carbon Copy network includes a unique collection of inspiring climate action stories told by over 1,000 local organisations from across the UK; area-specific information about the changing climate and Climate Action Plans; popular podcasts and blogs; and nationwide events that bring people together.

Our Submission

We are grateful to be invited to submit evidence to the Committee. To do this, we compiled a subset of the questions in the call for evidence which are relevant to local community organisations and councils who have submitted stories to us about EVs. We sent those out as an online questionnaire. This document was put together based on a) the responses we received, b) excerpts we have selected from stories published on the Carbon Copy story hub and c) our organisation’s collective experience. Passages in italics are excerpted quotes.

Government approaches

1.              What are the main obstacles to the achievement of the Government’s 2030 and 2035 phase-out dates? Are the phase-out dates realistic and achievable? If not, what steps should the Government take to make the phase-out dates achievable?

An obstacle put forward repeatedly by our survey respondents in their replies is the perceived running cost of EVs, eg “Cost of electricity”. However, public perceptions are often not accurate, as we will show. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there about EVs”. We strongly recommend a public information campaign both to address this issue, and to help the UK population to understand we will need an integrated blend of solutions.


All our respondents agreed that another serious obstacle is the UK’s current charging network. “I won't take my EV on a long distance journey.” They cited the lack of infrastructure outside cities, where ironically car ownership is more likely.


Some respondents are concerned about a total and rapid switch within the timescales proposed. “Don't get rid of petrol and diesels completely - being highly dependent on electricity could lead to disaster if there is a major problem with supply.” This might be achieved through the interim step (as the EU is planning) of permitting use of e-fuels derived from circular raw materials with a low-carbon footprint. These can be used in current ICEVs, emitting up to 90% less CO2 than conventional fossil fuels.


Carbon Copy’s recommendation is to create local ‘tipping points’ of shifted behaviour. Lessons can be learned from the West Yorkshire Electric Vehicle Charging Network which has really engaged drivers in the transition, including “free-of-charge energy for all drivers. The chargers remained free to use for over two years. Since launch, the charging points have provided more than nine million free miles to over 10,000 registered drivers.


Before launching the project [in 2019], we carried out extensive research to inform the design of the charging network and forecast the success of the programme. We were able to predict that around 500 diesel taxis and private hire cars could be converted to hybrid and pure electric vehicles as a result of us rolling out these charge points, which would have a significant, positive impact on transport pollution levels.


As a combined authority, we focus heavily on listening to the needs of our residents, which is why we were keen to ensure [using focus groups] that the network design was influenced by the public and those who would be using the charge points. This uncovered several learnings, such as the need for rapid charging in key taxi pick-up locations.


3.              What specific national policies, regulations or initiatives have helped, or have hindered, EV adoption to date?

Our respondents agreed that the early financial incentives were influential in their own choice to purchase an EV:

The initial subsidies for EV purchase and charge point installation were useful.  As is the £0 road tax.

[In the] early days, we received a grant on a new vehicle. That swung it for me.


However, most agreed that their decision to replace an ICEV with an EV was initially discouraged by the perceived lack of sufficient charging infrastructure.


6.              What are the overall environmental benefits that would result from achieving the 2030 and 2035 targets?

Apart from a universal reference to bringing down CO2 emissions, our respondents mentioned other advantages such as noise and pollution reduction:

Towns and cities would be quieter and less pollution from the exhaust pipe.

I think thats obvious - CO2 emissions.

Cleaner air, lower carbon emissions, less noise pollution.


7.               What are the likely costs that will be faced by consumers as a result of the Government’s phase-out dates for non-zero emissions vehicles?

Some predictions such as “increased costs in electricity and road tax”, reveal a perception that when the phase out comes, it will cost them more to charge their EV – using the public charging network at least – than fuelling their previous ICEV. There is also an awareness of the Government’s proposal to equalise the Vehicle Excise Duty treatment of all zero emission and ICEVs from April 2025. This change, which will apply to both new and existing AFVs, may reduce the incentive to switch. Helping the public develop a realistic and accurate view is critical.


Having to purchase a new vehicle. No help with scrappage.” Theres an assumption that for many on lower incomes, swapping their existing ICEV for a new EV will be a substantial financial hurdle, for which they won’t get government help. Comments such as “[the] environmental cost of scrapping perfectly good and not very old cars, less than 10 years old” also indicate a mistaken belief that after 2035, only pure EVs or hydrogen-powered cars and vans can be owned and driven, not just sold new. We recommend that a public information campaign would reduce anxiety and promote understanding that second-hand cars (regardless of whether they use fossil fuels or e-fuels) will be unaffected by the initial ban on new ICEV sales.


Are there policies or initiatives that the Government could use to specifically target barriers arising from unpredictable costs to the consumer, for example significant fluctuations in the cost of electricity, changes to road taxes, or the introduction of low emission zones?

Respondents mentioned that the Government could financially encourage people to join a car club or car share: “provide a financial incentive for them to do so, as well as (perhaps) increase the cost of owning a second or third car in the same household.


Our respondents were worried by the recent unprecedented increase in UK electricity prices, from which they have only partially been protected, and fear future demand-driven price hikes. “With more EVs, the electricity demand will increase. There will need to be regulation to ensure prices don't spike.


There is some acknowledgement that “most town and city centres should be low emission zones”, but no reference to reactions from the public to recent new ULEZ schemes.

Experience of using an EV

18.               What are the main challenges that UK consumers face in their use of EVs?

A principal challenge cited by some (but not all) of our respondents is cost: “The cost of [EV] purchase, cost of electricity at home and especially when using commercial charge points.” This contrasts with evidence cited by fleet professionals and the motor trade that not only running expenses but also service maintenance and repair (SMR) costs for EVs will probably continue to be less than those for ICEVs, even as EVs age and mileage rebuilds after the pandemic years. Smaller EVs in particular have lower cost levels than comparable ICEVs. Achieving a more positive and informed view of the cost of EV ownership among this pessimistic section of the population will be an essential education task. Helping drivers understand the economics and policies for costs at commercial charging points might be useful.


The second major concern for all our respondents is ‘range anxiety’:

“Charging network issues and availability.”

“The network of commercial charge points is not robust enough to give people confidence when driving long distance.  It can be very stressful if you need to be somewhere at a definite time and need to charge on route, as there is a risk that your planned charge point may be in use or not working when you arrive.  Also, due to network constraints, you might get a lower flow of electricity than expected.”


Thirdly, as well as the currently inadequate charging infrastructure, there is also a concern that the national network of garages and mechanics qualified to service EVs will also be inadequate for the greatly increased volume: “lack of infrastructure and garages that can deal with EVs.”


19.               What are the main benefits that UK consumers could realise from using an EV?

The first category of comments is about the quality of the ride, with some interesting implications for a possible change in driving habits:

“They’re quieter and less tiring to drive long distance than manual [ICEVs].”

“Due to the regeneration technology, you’re encouraged to drive more mindfully and see how much you can stretch the range of the vehicle.”


Given that our respondents are all Carbon Copy story contributors, its not surprising that a high priority is the “Goal [of] carbon neutral.”


Lastly, in contrast to the comments from some answering the previous question, there is also a group of our respondents who have found that EVs are “cheaper to run.


21.               How does the charging infrastructure for EVs need to develop to meet the 2030 target? Does the UK need to adopt a single charging standard (e.g., the Combined Charging System (CCS)) or is there room in the market for multiple charger types?

Not surprisingly, all the answers to this question reflected previous comments about ‘range anxiety’:

“[The infrastructure needs to] develop quickly and be reliable.”

“The operators need to understand that a reliable and well-maintained charging network is essential for everyone's well-being and sanity.  Otherwise, its likely to become like the rail network in some areas, where people give up and use other means to get places.”

“Needs a huge increase.”

“Larger charging stations need to be developed, next to cafes/shops. Adding chargers to existing parking spaces is a great way to increase the volume of chargers.


(Our survey respondents did not comment on the second part of this question.)


24.               In terms of charging infrastructure, are there unique barriers facing consumers in areas of low affluence and/or multi-occupancy buildings, such as shared housing or high-rise flats?

Our respondents focused on two areas, the first being cost. “Cost of purchase/lease of vehicles and cost of electricity.” There was a suggestion to address the cost issues for consumers in this demographic by promoting a different model of car ownership and use:

“We should really be thinking more about car sharing a.k.a. car clubs.  I set up one 16 years ago and its still running, I would not want to buy or lease my own EV, [it’s] much cheaper to share and does not tie up any money.  If I don’t drive, I don’t pay.”


The second, “Yes. Access to chargers.” acknowledged the particular difficulties of this societal cohort. Given, eg, the difficulties of one-to-one charging stations for residents in multi-occupancy buildings, car sharing is again a solution.  “For people who cannot have their own charge points, sharing makes sense as [shared] cars could be allocated a dedicated parking place with their own dedicated 7kW charger.”


Do you consider public EV charging points to be accessible and equitable compared to home-charging points? What can be done to improve accessibility and equitability?

None of our respondents thought the current arrangement of public EV charging points is equitable or accessible compared to home-charging points, for various reasons, some mentioned previously:

a) the cost, “[No], they are a lot more expensive, even though they [may] charge quicker than home charge points. For many people who only do short journeys, they would want to use a home charger if possible, to keep the cost down.”

b) the lack of accessibility in low-affluence areas, “[No, they are] not accessible or fair. We need new ways of charging, especially for on-street parking or where people go, eg, supermarkets.”

c) and for the one sixth of the UK population who live in the country, away from towns and cities, “public EV charging is very inaccessible in rural areas.


Carbon Copy notes that partnership and investment in community centres can bring electrification to the heart of the community. Bridges Community Centre has shared their story on Carbon Copy: “As well as providing much-needed funds for our community centre, we hope the chargers will inspire local residents to get an electric car if they are able to. Having a changer close to home, and at a local hub for activities, could take away the worry of where to charge your car. It’s a great way to cut local air pollution and reduce our local environmental footprint.


As electric vehicles become more widespread, the UK government should work with local authorities to make on-street charging affordable, recommends Durham Chargepoint Delivery in their story on Carbon Copy: “Even once lower income households begin to take up electric vehicles, they could face charging inequalities. Using on-street public chargepoints is currently more expensive than private home charging (which comes through homeowners’ domestic tariff) but is the only option for some residents. As electric vehicles become more widespread the UK Government should work with local authorities to lower on-street charging costs.


25.              Is there a financial benefit to the consumer of choosing an EV over an ICE vehicle? Are there further benefits, aside from financial, that a consumer may gain from EV use?

As stated previously, there is a lack of clarity among our respondents as to the relative ownership cost of EVs and ICEVs. This is partly because most EVs are still much younger than their ICEV equivalent, so are not yet experiencing the same degree of mechanical deterioration, and partly because of recent extreme fluctuations in electricity and fossil fuel costs:

Fewer moving parts, cheaper servicing.  But the cost of electricity means that EVs are now more expensive to top up compared to petrol and diesel cars.

“I don't think there is a financial benefit. Initial investment is high, electricity cost is high.”

Yes, there is a financial benefit. The fuel cost is significantly cheaper.  Less moving parts mean less maintenance is required.


Non-financial benefits mentioned here, and previously, include reduced pollution and noise. “Better air quality around your home. Better for shorter journeys (ie, the majority of the journeys people make).

National and regional issues

32.               What are the issues facing rural residents, urban residents, and sub-urban residents and how do they differ?

Most of our survey respondents are from rural communities. They have much greater flexibility in installing home or local community charge points.  “I live in a rural area.  We have space to park our car next to the house and could install a charge point.  Also, our local community centre is happy for us to install a charge point and park the community EV in their car park. In towns, parking is likely to be an issue and a lot of houses won't be able to install their own charge point and will have to rely on public charge points.”

Some respondents were not aware that the EV Chargepoint Grant scheme (which replaced the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) on 1 April 2022) still provides funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing smart EV chargepoints at domestic properties across the UK. This is a communication issue. “I live in a rural area. I had to install a home charger. High up-front cost. Issues different [for rural residents] as we have no chargers locally.”

Rural residents also talk about the impact on domestic EVs of very poor road conditions, as councils everywhere have held back for years on the routine maintenance of country roads. “EVs are more expensive up front (even though they save you money in the long run) and if you do damage them, which is very likely in areas with lots of potholes, you have to travel hours to find the nearest garage that is capable of fixing them.”

Local Councils can and should be providing leadership on electrification, like Dundee City Council, which is trying to create The EV City. Its story, shared on Carbon Copy, emphasises the importance of partnerships, the need to understand infrastructure, and consideration of the weekly journeys made by commuters.


The Drive Dundee Electric campaign, launched in June 2017, has been fundamental in encouraging and supporting the uptake of EVs across the city. It is now the face of all the latest news about charging infrastructure, regulation and events, and acts as a point of information and contact to ensure all responses are accurate and quick, providing the best experience to EV owners. Robust charging infrastructure capable of supporting the Council fleet and public EVs has been central to success. It is vital to understand the current electrical capacity at key sites and plan effectively to provide the infrastructure required. Working in partnerships and endorsing innovative technology has also been vital for the success of EVs in the city. Partnerships such as the pop-up EV charging hubs driven forward by Urban Foresight, and working closely with taxi and bus companies in the city, has enabled Dundee to lead the way with EV travel.


Along with providing Dundee with charging infrastructure, the council understood the need to provide regional infrastructure given that a substantial number of weekly journeys into Dundee start from outside the city. Working in partnership with surrounding local authorities, the council developed the concept of EV charging gateways which link up the city’s charging infrastructure with the neighbouring region.