The London Borough of Lambeth has worked with Connected Kerb, an electric vehicle (EV) charging specialist, in a project to demonstrate how affordable, and accessible, public EV charging infrastructure can be deployed to tackle EV inequality and drive greater EV adoption amongst communities traditionally under-represented in the EV transition.
While EV ownership is increasing significantly, the transition to EVs has exposed disparities between different communities across the UK. For example, those living in urban centres, high-rise flats and council estates are significantly less likely to have access to a private driveway, making it difficult to install solutions for charging at home. At the same time, these communities have the most to gain from the clean transport revolution, as often they are disproportionately exposed to the highest levels of toxic exhaust emissions and poorer air quality.
Approximately a third of residents in Lambeth live on estates managed by the council and a large proportion of drivers rely on public EV charging infrastructure. The project should therefore act as a blueprint that can be adopted at scale by other boroughs, councils and cities across Britain to deliver an inclusive and equitable EV transition, serving all members of society, including the 40% of households nationally without off-street parking.
“People often think electric vehicles are the preserve of a fortunate few with detached houses and driveways, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. With running costs much lower than petrol and diesel cars, all communities, regardless of where they live, their social background, or whether they have a driveway or not, have lots to gain,” said Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb.
“Unfortunately, some communities are being failed by a classic chicken and egg scenario. Without high EV adoption, charge point operators won’t build public charging, and without reliable charging, why would anyone go electric? We have designed our business model to overcome this and with Lambeth Council, we are delivering a fairer and equitable clean transport future – here and right across the UK.”
The project in Lambeth includes 22 on-street EV chargers across 11 council estates in the Borough to provide easy access to public charging, even for those without off-street parking. It forms part of the council’s wider strategy to work with multiple charge point operators to install more than 200 charge points by 2022, with the aim of ensuring every household with no access to off-street parking is within a five-minute walk of their nearest charge point.
Connected Kerb’s chargers will provide a 7kW fast charge, useful for on-street charging.
“Switching away from a fossil fuelled car was very important to me as reducing my impact on climate change is something I really care about,” said Ajai Ahluwalia, local resident and driver.
“However, living in a home without off-street parking makes this difficult – before the installation, the nearest chargers were a fifteen-minute walk away and it wasn’t guaranteed that I would be able to get a spot – this was a real nuisance, and I am sure it puts a lot of local people off making the switch.
“The installation of the chargers has had a really positive impact on the estate. I’ve spoken to neighbours who have actually made the switch to an electric vehicle because of the chargers going in and they are reassured that they can easily charge outside their flat – it’s amazing! The more boroughs and estates this type of project can happen in, the better.”
Road transport is the biggest cause of air pollution in Lambeth, accounting for more than 50% of its emissions. As well as installing EV charging, the council is also putting in measures to curb emissions from roads, including encouraging more cycling, increasing public transport use and investing in raising awareness of the dangers of air pollution.
Each of Connected Kerb’s chargers will provide a 7kW fast charge, useful for habitual on-street charging where residents are parked for a predictable amount of time each day. Every charge point will feature contactless payment via the Connected Kerb app with a consistent network and tariff across the sites, enabling fair and equal access for everyone.
The project was funded in part through the UK Government’s On-Street Residential Charge Point Scheme, available to all local authorities in the UK. Through the scheme, 75% of the costs were financed by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles and the remaining costs were covered by the council.