The future of travel is electric. Pressure to put the brakes on greenhouse emissions and ban new petrol and diesel cars means an acceleration in the uptake of electric vehicles. But there's a catch: range anxiety. A fear of the unknown. Will the car actually make the destination? With a lack of infrastructure to power up mid-journey, Highways England needed to futureproof the road network for the long-term. It wanted 95% of its motorways and major A roads to be within 20 miles of a charge point. It was up to us to work out how to make it happen.
To support Highways England’s ambition, we conducted a UK-wide feasibility study looking at providing improved Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure at motorway service stations. The study focused on 10 motorways and will inform investment into improving energy supply across the Strategic Road Network over the next five years.
We developed an outline business case that provided the strategic, economic, financial, commercial and management elements for investment. Bringing together teams from across our transport planning, manufacturing, technology and energy divisions, we developed an outline strategy for rolling-out EV chargers, designed to ensure that energy supply stays ahead of demand as uptake increases. We also developed the commercial and operational model to support investment.
Our feasibility study formed a key element of Highways England’s Delivery Plan, which makes a commitment to supporting the Government’s Road to Zero strategy. The Government has already stated its intention to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2035, and recently passed legislation to commit the UK to its new target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The rapid route to pure electric travel
Providing more electric charging points will be crucial in helping motorists overcome range anxiety - one of the most commonly cited concerns preventing people from making the switch to electric. A higher number of faster charge points also means shorter charging times and ultimately a quicker journey and improved customer experience.
With confidence in the Plan, Highways England’s target has already been exceeded. The Government's new ambition is to have at least six high powered, open access charge points at all motorway service areas in England by 2023. This will bring welcome relief to all those already driving electric vehicles, and the necessary reassurance to those who want to make the switch. And the swifter the switch, the swifter the people of England can enjoy clean air again.