Simon Bailes
Simon Bailes

Member Article

EVs in the North East: what’s next?

It’s environment focus week on Bdaily, and we are looking at what the low-carbon economy really means for UK SMEs, as well as picking apart the nuts and bolts of adapting business to “go-green.“ Simon Bailes Peugeot is at the forefront of eco-driving as a founding member of the North East’s Plugged-in Places campaign- a scheme committed to the development of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure- and a lead partner in Switch EV, the project trialling electric vehicles backed by Government funding. Here he shares his thoughts on what’s now needed to take the electric vehicle infrastructure forward for the future.

The North East region is fast-becoming a Europe-wide leader in eco-driving. As part of the Switch EV trial, we’ve already seen big reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and an appetite for electric vehicles across the North East - greater than could have been anticipated- from the early adopters. Those using EVs have seen numerous benefits- despite some being initially quite sceptical. For example, charging habits show that drivers don’t feel the need to constantly charge their cars and have real confidence in the technology at their disposal.

We’re very fortunate in the North East that we have pioneering schemes such as Plugged-in Places and Switch EV as this now means that a charging infrastructure is in place and continually developing. These projects are also providing us with essential, ground-breaking data that emphasises the need- and also the demand- for charging points as drivers recognise the benefits of using an EV both for business and personal use.

It’s a very exciting time to be in the North East and see the region lead the way in electric vehicle technology. In terms of the infrastructure, the North East is already well served with various agencies and organisations to support the needs of electric driving. The pioneering Plugged in Places team manages the Charge your Car open charging network which is one of the largest in the country and they are committed to developing this going forward. Various other agencies, such as Tadea, are there for advice and support on living and working sustainably. Plus, Future Transport Systems are running the Switch EV trial, a Technology Strategy Board project to gain data and insight into EV usage and charging habits- this has already provided invaluable insights into the attitudes and behaviours of EV drivers.

We have 20 Peugeot iOns on the trial and it has been fascinating to see perceptions and barriers to adoption being exploded. The TORG (Transport Operations Research Group) team from the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University has already gathered information and is analyzing a volume of groundbreaking research into all aspects of usage, charging patterns and emissions.

Basically, although I believe there is more work to do on the infrastructure, the main focus should now be on generating awareness of the potential benefits of EV adoption to the target audience of early adopters. This is what will drive the scale of progress and development in the shorter term.

Here are some other environment focus articles that may be of interest to you: carbon reporting in logistics firms; what are the benefits of electric vehicles?; we talk to a print business about why SMEs need to go green; find out how one innovative business is using ozone as a cleaning tool; and what does sustainability really mean to your business?

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Simon Bailes .

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