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Electric Vehicle Charge Points

Volume 637: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2018

Britain is building one of the best charge point networks in the world, and our £400 million charging infrastructure investment fund, announced at the Budget, will see thousands more charge points installed across the UK.

Yesterday, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee visited the London Electric Vehicle Company in my constituency. The Secretary of State will remember opening it a year ago, and it is great that we are now seeing electric taxis on the streets of London. We also went to the Electric Vehicle Experience Centre in Milton Keynes, where we heard concerns about the fact that the lack of compatibility between chargers and connectors is in danger of putting people off buying an electric car. What will the Secretary of State do to encourage the industry to adopt a standard?

I am delighted that the Committee went to see the electric taxi company. The opening, at which my hon. Friend accompanied me, was a fantastic event. Having such compatibility is a very important matter. The recently introduced Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulations 2017 set minimum standards for publicly accessible charge points. In addition, the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which is currently before Parliament, will give the Government new powers to regulate these technical standards.

Many supply companies are worried that if there is a high uptake, which I think we would all support, the infrastructure will not be there to support it. It is just not true that electric vehicles do not use a great deal of power, so there are concerns about strain on the system as a whole.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for those comments. Our access to the network is one of the best in the world, especially for fast chargers. He is absolutely right that electric vehicles can contribute to the electricity grid’s resilience, because their batteries can store electricity generated by renewables for a time when it is needed, which is very much part of the smart systems plan.

Batteries, of course, are one of the constraints that people consider before buying electric cars, because of their limited range. Does my right hon. Friend therefore welcome the initiative of the Mayor of the West Midlands, along with the Government, for introducing a battery research centre in the west midlands?

Not a Question Time goes by without me welcoming an initiative from the Mayor of the West Midlands. We have worked very closely with the Mayor, and with the automotive industry, to ensure that we are investing at the cutting edge of research into battery technology, precisely so that we can build the cars of the future.

What comfort can the Secretary of State give the people of Bristol, who wish to see the number of electric charging points massively increased?

I am delighted that there is such enthusiasm in Bristol. The hon. Lady will be aware that the funding for charging infrastructure is available especially for city-centre authorities that can put it into public car parks.