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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Lack of EV chargepoints leaves SMEs stuck in the slow lane

A postcode lottery in car charge points could hamper the Government’s levelling up agenda, new research suggests, as regional infrastructure shortages slow down SMEs’ ability to switch to electric fleets.

Some 720,000 electric vehicles (EVs) are now on UK roads, around 60% of which are company registered. However, a wide geographical disparity in publicly available chargers could prevent SMEs from making the switch, potentially missing out on significant savings, according to analysis by insurer Zurich UK.

Zurich mapped the number of publicly available EV chargepoints (1) across the UK against the small business population (2) and found, on average, there is just one public chargepoint available for every 56 small businesses.

Small businesses in Greater Manchester (3) have access to the fewest electric vehicle chargepoints, with 237 firms competing for every publicly available socket. This is followed by Essex (203 firms per charger) and Surrey (169 per charger).

The analysis also revealed vast regional disparities, with 111 SMEs in Northern Ireland vying for each public chargepoint available. The North West averages 70 SMEs per charger, while the East of England averages 67 firms per charger. (Fig 1)

Firms in these regions may be less able to enjoy the significantly reduced tax liabilities, as well savings on fuel, that come with switching to electric.

Small businesses in Greater London have the lowest number of businesses per chargepoint at 23, followed by Scotland (32) and the North East (35).

Zurich is calling on the Government to address the disparities as part of its levelling up agenda and to ensure a level playing field for organisations wanting to go electric.

Will Edwards, Zurich’s Head of SME, said: “SMEs have a huge and vital role to play in helping the UK reach the Government’s net zero carbon emissions target by 2050. With lower running costs and exemption from many charges that apply to combustion-engine vehicles, switching to an electric fleet should be an easy decision for SMEs. However, the shortage of chargepoints in many UK regions and counties could prevent SMEs from making the leap. Furthermore, regional disparities in access to charging infrastructure may hinder the ability of small firms to do business, or their desire to invest, in some parts of the UK.

“We need to see a levelling up of public charging infrastructure, so all businesses, irrespective of where they are located, can benefit from the EV revolution and also meet sustainability targets.”

Positively, some progress is being made and the number of public charging points grew 31% in the year to July 2022. The number of sockets installed in UK workplaces via the Government’s Workplace Charging Scheme (*) also saw a 60% jump during the last financial year (April 21-Mar 22), with over 10,000 new sockets installed in workplaces across the UK(4). However, some regions are stalling, and workplaces in the North East, Wales and Northern Ireland completed the least number of sockets installations through the grant – 1,198, 976 and 536 respectively. See Fig 2 for regional breakdown.

Zurich is advising businesses and local authorities to investigate their eligibility for grants through current government schemes which aim to boost charging infrastructure across the UK. This includes the Workplace Charging Scheme which provides businesses, charities and public sector organisations with support towards the upfront costs of the purchase and installation of EV chargepoints.  Local Authorities are also able to apply for grants through the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme to install residential chargepoints.

There are more electric vehicles on UK roads than ever before (5), with an estimated 720,053 cars that can be plugged in. Around 58.8% of these are company registered.  To help businesses embrace the EV revolution, Zurich UK recently enhanced its SME motor policy by adding new cover and wording to its small fleet policy for firms with between two and 20 vehicles. In an industry-first, Zurich now also offers a like-for-like electric vehicle replacement when customers use one of its approved repair networks.

Will Edwards continues: “We are committed to supporting SMEs as they respond to the electric vehicle revolution and make their day-to-day operations more sustainable. This includes enhancing our SME motor policy to futureproof cover for customers and meet the evolving needs of modern fleets.”

Sam Allcock
Sam Allcockhttps://businesslancashire.co.uk/
Sam Allcock is a highly regarded digital entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in online marketing for some of the World’s biggest brands. He has extensive knowledge and experience in SEO and digital marketing. He is based in Cheshire but has an interest in all things going on in the North West and enjoys contributing local news to the site.


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