The quality of electric charging point provision being made for fleets to recharge electric vehicles by Transport for London and the London mayor have been called into question.
Speaking at a conference in the capital in January which focused on the next steps for intelligent mobility, Andrew Wescott (pictured), head of regulatory and external affairs at minicab company Addison Lee, claimed that if the capital’s cabbies and minicab drivers were to immediately switch to electric, 8000 rapid charging points would be required in an instant.
“The ambition is to have 300 charging points in London by 2020, which clearly isn’t enough,” he said. “So clearly the ambition and the need far outweigh what’s actually being deployed.”
Transport for London previously announced it would install 300 rapid chargers by 2020, however Wescott added that his firm is stuck between a rock and a hard place thanks to TfL announcing it is removing the congestion charge exemption for minicabs.
“To avoid having to pay to enter the [congestion charge] zone we have to operate a zero-emission vehicle, and for a fleet of 5500 vehicles that’s very challenging indeed,” he added. “Our drivers take their vehicles home at night and most of them can’t charge overnight, because most of them live in London.”
He confirmed that Addison Lee’s fleet is Ultra-Low Emission Zone-compliant thanks to a large fleet deal with Volkswagen (See Here), but he claimed the Government and legislators need to think of fleets more when coming up with frameworks to install new charging points.
“One of our concerns about the Electric Vehicle Charging Act as it went through Parliament was that there was too much of a focus on the private motorist instead of the fleet, and that meant some of the ideas about locations for EV infrastructure weren’t ideal. For us, our drivers need to charge fairly rapidly and in certain locations such as airports and railway stations when they’re stopping for 15 minutes, whereas with a logistics company they can charge at a depot overnight. There are demands from different fleets and different industries and these things need to be considered as we look at rolling out the infrastructure,” he added.
Wescott also revealed the results of a study which looked at modelling future autonomous vehicle shuttle operations in Greenwich, south-east London. Greenwich was chosen for the simulations and customer surveys, he said, because it has one of the slowest A-roads in the country (according to Department for Transport statistics, the A2203 has an average speed of just 4mph), and because public transport doesn’t fully serve the borough.
While the computer modelling suggested journey times could be improved by 50% thanks to people ditching vehicles in favour of a ride-hailing service, an unintended side-effect occurred.
“We had four levels of modelling – a minibus, an assist service, a standard service and an exec service,” he continued. “We took these services and put them into an accessibility simulation, with our modelling suggesting 31,000 trips would be made each day,”
“We found a very high demand for the services but one of the main challenges was that they drew far too much demand away from public transport, particularly buses. We’re already seeing that in London with bus usage going down thanks to ride-hailing services, and clearly that’s not desirable from an accessibility point of view.”
The Addison Lee executive also warned that any moves to introduce autonomous vehicles would need to be made alongside a mass switch to electric vehicles: “If we don’t deliver AVs and EVs simultaneously we may find that road emissions and congestion increases at the same time,” he concluded.