Electric charging point network for London

MQT on 2017-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2017
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Will the growth in electric charging points across London be sufficient to enable a transformation in the use of electric cars, vans and taxis on London’s roads?


Answer for Electric charging point network for London

Answer for Electric charging point network for London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question.  I am committed to working with the private sector and London boroughs to help drivers phase out the use of fossil fuels - especially diesel - and to switch to ultra-low emission technologies such as electricity and hydrogen.


We will be introducing a new rapid electric charge point network this year to support commercial vehicle owners, including taxi, private-hire and van drivers, to adopt electric vehicles.  TfL is working extensively with London boroughs and private landowners to identify suitable sites for the network, many of which will be dedicated for taxis.  I urge all interested parties to participate.


We are very encouraged by discussions with operators who see the potential and are willing to invest alongside funding secured by TfL.  The final framework contract, which is due to be finalised this Easter, will allow TfL and the boroughs to facilitate the swift deployment of rapid charge points at available locations with the first rapid charge points installed this summer.


We know that this is only part of the puzzle.  More and different types of charging are needed to enable a transformation in the use of electric vehicles on London’s roads.  TfL, the GLA and London boroughs are already working to deliver £13 million of new charging infrastructure through the Go Ultra Low City Scheme.  This will provide a further 2,000 charge points specifically for residents without off-street parking and car clubs led by London Councils.  Other networks including Source London and Polar have also made commitments to significantly expand the supply of on-street public charge points by next year.  We have four publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations and this is set to increase.  This will change the landscape of electric charge point coverage in London and, importantly, boost the confidence of Londoners and businesses that they can switch from fossil fuels to electric.


Finally, I recognise that more charging infrastructure will be needed and I have asked TfL to continue to review what is needed, looking at electric vehicle uptake, charge point usage and new research.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you.  According to your plans, by the end of 2020 you are looking to have about 450 rapid electric charge points in London, which will serve all types of vehicles.  We know that this year the London Taxi Company is launching its first electrically powered black taxi and so you are going to need a really expensive rapid charging network to allow drivers to switch over.  Estimates are for at least 500, if not thousands, for taxis alone.  Do you really feel that your current plans are sufficient to help that quick take-up of electric taxis?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I share your frustration and we need to do as much as we can.  We are going as fast as we can within the confines of our resources.  That is why we are looking for partners and interested parties.  Part of it is sites and part of it is making sure we have the resources.  We will go as fast as we can.  We are ambitious.  You have heard in answers to previous questions how ambitious we are.  Any help or ideas you have in relation to funding or sites, please, do get in touch.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  If you want drivers who work for a living seriously to consider these electric vehicles, they have to be able to quickly plug them in and charge them for 30 minutes in a day in order to make the numbers add up.  Although you have said you are doing a lot, I just feel - and you did not actually give any numbers - that there needs to be a bit more of an emphasis on this rapid charging.  I know you have the others, which have a mix of charging points.  Will you push TfL to try to accelerate the rapid charging points where it possibly can?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  As you know, there is a Transport Strategy and there is lots of work taking place there.  TfL is working with suppliers to deliver 150 rapid charging points by the end of 2018 and about 90 will be dedicated for London taxis.  This is essential for the reasons we have discussed.  We are continuing to validate the number of rapid charge points required beyond 2018.  That is why I have referred to my Transport Strategy.  There are areas around research, zero-emission-capable vehicle uptake and charge point usage.  The key issue is working with the industry to go forward, identify suitable locations, understand the demand and get the resources as well.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  The industry itself estimates that it needs at least 500 plus rapid charging [points] in order for the new electric taxis to really take off.  I would encourage you to look at whether there can be a bit more pace around that.


On the issue of electric taxis, there is a further step to ensure their rapid adoption.  Electric taxis are inevitably going to be expensive to buy even though their running costs will be lower than diesel vehicles.  Will you look to help drive down prices by instructing TfL to bulk-purchase them and then to sell or lease them on to drivers or garages?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No.  You have already asked the question.  It is not our job to do that.  Minicab drivers, black cab drivers; it is for them to get their vehicles.  What we are doing, though, is committing £87 million to ease the transition.  As you know, we give help towards people getting rid of their old vehicles and give them a contribution towards buying their new vehicles.  We are criticised, by the way, for doing that by the private hire vehicles and the big companies and stuff.  They support it to help ‑‑


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  That is it.  You have answered that thoroughly.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is important to help black taxis.


Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Thank you.