Phil Hack, head of markets for UK Power Networks Services, said that considering the load of EV charging on a site’s electricity supply was of particular importance with van fleets.
He said: “Regarding resilience, if you’re a fleet operator and power goes down that means deliveries aren’t happening tomorrow.
“The complication of electrification varies from site to site. It boils down to exactly what’s running past your site.”
Turning to vehicle supply, Dr Colin Herron MBE, MD of Zero Carbon Futures, warned that the limited availability of electric LCVs would mean authorities had to compromise on plans for city centre low-emission zones.
He said: “We’ve got low-emissions zones, ultra-low-emissions zones, zero-emissions zones.
All they mean is they’re going to charge you to go in – they’re not actually zero emissions.
“[The Oxford proposal] says ‘Where zero-emission vehicles aren’t commercially viable or available, some flexibility will be required.’ You bet there will.”
Herron explained that the number of EVs being produced by manufacturers was simply not enough to support widespread adoption.
He said: “In 2016 Nissan sold 4,319 eNV200s across Europe. The total manufacturing capacity of the eNV200 is 10,000 for 28 countries.
“The Renault Kangoo…exceeded 7,500 in Europe. So effectively if we want lots and lots of zero-emission zones there are no delivery vans to go in them.”
He also argued that UK investment in charging infrastructure had been misplaced: “At the moment there is an obsession…with the reason we haven’t got a lot of EVs being because we haven’t got any infrastructure.
“So what we now get is: lack of EV sales, put in more infrastructure; there’s still no increase in sales, so we put in yet more infrastructure. Which results in very low utilisation, hence no business case for infrastructure, so we go for more grants and put in more infrastructure. And this has been going on for about seven years.”
Herron said the national utilisation of rapid chargers is 4%, meaning for 96% of the time they were not used.
He added: “Putting more infrastructure in is a simple waste of taxpayers money unless there is a hotspot. In some places we need more, in some places we certainly don’t.”
In response to a fear that electric motoring would become more expensive as governments looked to reclaim lost revenue from fuel duty, Visa Parviainen, CTO of event sponsor ENSTO, said it would – but that it would still be cheaper than fossil fuels.
“£28bn was how much HMRC made in 2017 in fuel taxation alone,” he said. “Do you think they can give it up? No.
“New taxes will be levied on EVs. They will still be significantly cheaper, but only because ICEs (internal combustion engines) will be so much more expensive to operate.”