The RAC is backing a major new national campaign to speed up the switch to electric cars by removing many of the barriers currently facing drivers.
FairCharge, which has been set up to ensure the environmental, economic and social benefits of the electric car revolution are properly harnessed, will push key EV issues to the forefront of the political agenda such as the cost, availability and speed of charging as well as battery range and the affordability of switching to an electric car.
The first focus will be tackling the current illogical VAT policy where EV owners who can’t charge at home pay four times more tax for their electricity from public on-street networks. Currently, VAT on domestic electricity is charged at 5% whereas those using public charge points unfairly have to pay 20% VAT. FairCharge and the RAC believe this is an unnecessary barrier to switching to an electric car for the 38% of people who aren’t able to charge an EV at home* as they would have no choice but to rely on the public charging network.
FairCharge will also campaign to ensure electricity at public charge points is priced fairly. This will help those needing to recharge on longer journeys and will avoid further penalising those who don’t have access to home charging. There will also be scrutiny of charging providers’ domestic and public charging tariffs, without which there’s a risk that charging an EV on some public networks could become as expensive as filling up with petrol or diesel, undermining the speed of drivers switching to zero-emission vehicles.
FairCharge, which is spearheaded by automotive journalist and electric car ambassador Quentin Willson, will also campaign to:
- ensure the UK has the right EV-related policies for drivers, the environment and the economy
- ensure the UK delivers a future-proofed high-speed public charging network to enable business use of EVs and that as many UK drivers as possible have easy access to a high-speed charger
- make buying an EV more affordable by promoting and encouraging low-cost funding options for both new and used EVs so they can be driven by the widest socio-demographic groups possible
- encourage the Government to assist private charging providers in building extensive and reliable charging networks through a range of support mechanisms, expedited planning permissions and other concessions on charging builds, equipment, cabling, groundworks and power supplies
- help educate and inform consumers in all aspects of EV ownership, dispel myths and promote new incentives to hasten the adoption of EVs by both the public and business
Findings from research for the RAC Report on Motoring 2021 support many of the aims of the FairCharge campaign:
- 38% of drivers say they would not be able to charge at home
- More than half of drivers (53%) say they don’t think they would be able to make long journeys as easily as in an electric car as they could in a conventionally fuelled one – an issue that is tied in with the perceived lack of fast and reliable charging infrastructure
- 63% of drivers don’t think there are enough public charging points
- Seven-in-10 (72%) of drivers would want to charge their cars at a public forecourt just as they would a petrol and diesel car
- Almost three-quarters of drivers (73%) say it’s important to be able to pay for charging using contactless methods
- 57% who are not likely to opt for electric car say it’s because they cost more than similar petrol or diesel cars
RAC director of EVs Sarah Winward-Kotecha said: “The UK’s journey to zero-emission driving is now well underway, but it’s vital that the switch to electric happens as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are many issues with public chargers such as cost, availability, reliability, speed of charging and ease of payment, which have the potential to either accelerate or slow down EV adoption depending on how they are handled. Our decision to support FairCharge is all about making sure that charging provision in all shapes and forms is both fit for purpose and fair.
“We also know from our research that drivers have concerns about going electric beyond charging, so we are pleased to see that FairCharge will be working to make driving an EV accessible to all as well ensuring the UK economy and society as whole benefit from the transition to electric driving.”
Quentin Willson added: “It’s great to be working with such an iconic brand like the RAC which has drivers’ interests at its very core and is already doing so much to encourage drivers to make the switch to electric. One of FairCharge’s first missions is to stop those who use public charge points having to pay VAT at 20% in stark contrast to the 5% rate on domestic electricity for those who are fortunate enough to be able to charge at home. This isn’t just unfair, it’s a policy mistake that will hinder EV take-up and impact on exactly those who we want to see enjoy the benefits of an EV.”
Yesterday afternoon FairCharge held a reception at the House of Commons for MPs interested in finding out more about the campaign. In addition, Quentin Willson has started a petition on Change.org calling on the Government to do more to help make electric vehicles affordable for everyone and put in place a national charging network so that drivers can be confident of life with an electric car.
The RAC is already leading the roadside assistance industry in terms of EV breakdown. In January it became the first major provider to add a pure EV to its breakdown fleet by putting a Renault Zoe Van E-Tech into service. It is also equipping patrols with the award-winning RAC EV Boost technology which can get flat or severely depleted electric cars going again without the need for heavy and bulky portable batteries and has kitted out the majority of its standard patrol vans with the innovative All-Wheels-Up rapid recovery system, which enables stricken EVs to be towed with all four wheels off the road.
To make it easier for drivers to go electric the RAC has joined forces with Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions to offer affordable leases on some of the most popular EV models and with British Gas on the installation of smart 7kW home chargers and a bespoke EV electricity tariff with cheaper off-peak overnight charging.
More information about FairCharge can be found at www.faircharge.co.uk.