Charging ahead: why electric vehicle infrastructure is key to boosting sustainability on our streets
Electric vehicles (EVs) had a record year in 2020, with more than 10 million of them recorded on the world’s roads, but without access to efficient charging the uptake of EVs could stall, and with it, global ambitions to secure net zero by 2050.
When the policymakers of the world descend on Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) there will be one crucial item on the agenda: how to turn the tide on climate change.
Limiting the planet’s temperature to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels remains a herculean task, one that requires humanity to produce less carbon than it takes out of the atmosphere. It also requires global collaboration, something EV charging provider and COP26 attendee Connected Kerb is calling for to ensure that everyone in society has access to greener transport.
As a significant contributor to global emissions of greenhouse gases, road transportation – and the switch to electric vehicles – will undoubtedly be a hot topic of conversation. High costs and poor performance have presented roadblocks in EV adoption in the past. Now, however, with electric cars gradually becoming more competitive in some countries on a total cost of ownership basis and more models debuting, some with ranges that can top 200 miles, these issues pose less of a hurdle.
In fact, despite being the worst year for car sales since 1992 , with conventional and overall new car registration falling, electric cars had a record year in 2020 when around 3 million new EVs were registered.  Europe led the way for the first time with 1.4 million registrations, followed by China with 1.2 million and the US with 295,000 new electric cars. 
Inequality is stalling EV uptake
But, while EV ownership might be skyrocketing, with registrations in the UK already up 139% in 2021 compared to last year , many communities are still at risk of being left behind because of limited access to charging infrastructure. According to a report by Connected Kerb, households with access to a driveway account for 80% of EV owners, while 67% of EV drivers said they would not have bought an EV if they hadn’t been able to charge it at home. By comparison, 89% said they would be inclined to buy an EV as their next car if charging points were available where they park overnight or at work. 
To put this into context, in the UK there are currently around 34 EVs on the road for every public access on-street EV charger, making it difficult for drivers without off-street parking to charge their cars. 
In response to this challenge, Connected Kerb, is on a mission to make charging affordable, sustainable and accessible to all, regardless of social status, geography or physical ability. This means working with councils, developers, fleets and real estate companies to deliver a reliable charging network that provides on-street residential charging facilities where residents do not have access to off-street parking, which are often in areas most susceptible to poor air quality. It also means increasing deployment in rural areas where charging blackspots exist, not just urban centres where revenue is more likely to be clawed back quickly. Furthermore, Connected Kerb is leading the way in listening to the needs of 2.9 million blue badge holders whose disability needs must be catered for when charging points are designed and deployed.
EVs support healthier communities
By providing charging infrastructure for everyone in society, Connected Kerb is hoping to boost the transition to sustainable mobility for all, ensuring that everyone, can enjoy the benefits of EVs, not least of which is improved health.
Certainly, the link between EV adoption and public health – which has been pushed to the top of the political agenda across the world due to the pandemic – cannot be overlooked. In the UK, studies have shown that 28,000 people die prematurely because of poor air quality. With EVs releasing on average 66% less greenhouse gas emissions than internal combustion vehicles, improving EV charging infrastructure for all is essential to boosting the respiratory health of communities, particularly because air pollution is often worse in the poorest areas, which are also most likely to have no off-street parking and therefore fewer charging options.
Leading the way to a smarter future
Improved access to EV charging does not just result in greener, healthier communities, but more connected ones too. As well as supporting IoT technology, such as air quality or traffic sensors through its charging points, Connected Kerb is also part of the UK’s first public smart charging scheme, which aims to improve access to cheaper tariffs. By enabling EV users to charge at times when energy is cheapest, such as overnight when demand is lower, or on sunny and windy days when there is an abundance of supply due to additional solar and wind energy, the scheme not only reduces emissions but keeps costs low for drivers.
The time for action is now
For the UK – and the world – to achieve its net zero objectives by 2050, it’s essential that EV ownership enters the mainstream. And to do this, equality needs to go arm-in-arm with climate action, so that EV charging infrastructure is convenient and accessible to everyone.
- Meeting electric vehicle targets through data collection and analysis
- What makes a Tesla? Electric dreams and rare minerals
- Our pledge to turn the tide on climate change – How we’re working to accelerate the mission of COP26
- Digital traffic: smart parking in a post-pandemic world
“Society has reached the point of no return in terms of the effort to reach net zero, particularly in the transition to zero-emission vehicles. The time for pledges is over and the time for action is now,” says Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb. “We need every road user to fight the climate change battle together in every corner of the globe. That’s why we are focused on deploying EV infrastructure that makes charging sustainable, affordable and accessible so that everyone, not just the wealthy few, can enjoy the benefits of EVs.”
To find out more about how EV infrastructure can accelerate the switch to EVs and support the health of our planet, click here.
 Deloitte, EV charging infrastructure update, part 1: More speed, more positions, more power
 IEA, Global EV Market Outlook 2021: Trends and developments in electric vehicle markets
 Connected Kerb, Agile streets project leads charge to smarter future
 Connected Kerb, Electric vehicles: Moving from early adopters to mainstream buyers
 Connected Kerb, Game-changing EV charging project in Lambeth addresses EV inequality
 Local Government Association, The case for electric vehicles
 The International Council on Clean Transportation
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