Over £600 million of electric vehicle investment unveiled across public and private initiatives

A new network of 200 fast electric vehicle charging points powered by battery storage is among the low emission transport initiatives to be announced by the private sector as part of the country’s first Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Summit.

Investment totalling over £500 million has been revealed as prime minister Theresa May travelled to Birmingham to open the summit, where she also unveiled a £106 million package of measures to develop clean vehicle, refuelling and battery technology.

In a statement released last night, May was expected to say at today’s event: “Today we have provided over £100 million of funding for innovators in ultra-low emission vehicles and hydrogen technology. With a further £500 million of investment from key industries in this sector.

“These measures will drive the design, use, uptake and infrastructure necessary for cleaner, greener vehicles – and in doing so, it will help us drastically reduce a major contributor to our global warming emissions, as we seek to meet the Paris Climate Change Agreement.”

While the government has yet to clarify what the new funding will be used for, only that it will play into the UK’s ‘ambitious mission’ to become world leader in low emission technology, a series of private sector initiatives were detailed.

The EV Network is developing 200 fast-charging stations throughout the UK, which is said to represent an investment of around £200 million. The network will be powered by renewable energy due to “strategic partnerships with clean energy producers”, according to the company’s website.

The company was formed in October 2017 by Reza Shaybani, chairman of the British Photovoltaic Association, and will seek to utilise batteries from Swiss manufacturer Leclanché – of which Shaybani is also a VP of strategic projects – to minimise grid impact at each location.

International trade secretary Liam Fox, who joined May in Birmingham alongside transport secretary Chris Grayling and business secretary Greg Clark, said: “The UK is already a world leader in electric vehicle technology and the partnership between the EV Network and Leclanché will reinforce the UK’s position in this exciting sector.

“My international economic department works closely with global investors to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s premier investment destination and this move is an example of how international partners can come together to deliver for Britain.”

The EV Network says it has 80 prime locations secured for the development of EV charging stations and will be able to offer over 200 locations suitable for EV charging by 2025.

Other investments within the £500 million announced today, which is expected to result in 1,000 new jobs across the UK include:

  • Aston Martin are announcing a further £50 million investment at its new St Athan facility in Wales, which will become its centre for electrification.
  • Hyperbat, the new joint-venture between Williams Advanced Engineering and Unipart Manufacturing Group, will open a vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Coventry in early 2019.
  • Lloyds Banking Group is announcing a new £1 million fund for electric vehicle leases to incentivise zero-emission driving.
  • Science and engineering company QinetiQ is expanding its power sources, energy storage & distribution business, making an initial £2 million investment over the next nine months.

In addition, May was expected to host an automotive roundtable with supply-chain companies from Germany, the USA, Japan, China, Spain and India in an attempt to drum up foreign investment interest as the UK heads out of the European Union.

“I want to see Britain, once again, leading from the front and working with industries and countries around the world to spearhead change,” the PM was also expected to say.

In order to ensure continued cooperation on the world stage, May also launched the ‘Birmingham Declaration’ to form the basis of increasing international engagement at climate conferences throughout the year to accelerate the global transition.

The first signatories include Italy, France, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Belarus and Indonesia.

This initiative should help to satisfy those concerned over the future role of the UK internationally following Brexit such as Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, who was also speaking at today’s summit.

Warning against the dangers of protectionism, Fairbairn said: “Our first opportunity for accelerating the transition to zero-emission is to deepen international collaboration on free trade.

“There’s another international opportunity, too. If we are to reap the rewards of specialisation, we must also secure the certainties of standardisation.

“In the race to create new products, let us agree common standards. It will take consultation and collaboration, but if emissions are a global problem then we need global solutions.”

She added that government had a responsibility to address people’s concerns over EVs, including their cost and the provision of chargers to address range anxiety.

“We want business to be bold in providing the supply. But governments must be bold in fuelling demand, too. It’s a technological change, but also a cultural change. And business can’t do that alone,” she said.

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