Freeman: ‘Rapidly adjust to the pace of change’

The government has sent a strong signal to the industry that it supports the rapid growth of electric vehicles and that it will “rapidly adjust to this pace of change.”

That is the message from MP George Freeman – in the newly-created post of Minister for the Future of Transport – when he launched the electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce report, produced by the government-backed Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

Created as a Ministerial taskforce just over a year ago, the Taskforce brought together 350 organisations spanning everything from electricity supply, to vehicle manufacturers, investors, tech companies, central and local government.

Mr Freeman’s 20-minutes non-scripted speech not only demonstrated his full understanding of his new role and the industry’s challenges, but also his enthusiasm.

Speaking to a packed auditorium with 500 people (some having to be accommodated in a separate room due to over-subscription) at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London, Mr Freeman said: “This wasn’t on the official round of ministerial speeches, but I wanted to come to signal my and the Department for Transport’s support.

“This is a new role created by the Prime Minister to help DfT grip the scale of the technological changes and the pace of decarbonisation and modal shift. I’m specifically on Prime Ministerial instructions, so I’m not a road, rail, aviation or shipping minister – which is a big change for DfT.

“My focus is on the ‘three Ds’: Tackling disconnection, de-carbonisation and digitisation.” Emphasising that his role is across government and transport he said that, “making sure all agencies are working together” is a key task. He also made clear the urgency for the pace of change that is being driven by the Prime Minister.

“It’s also about putting the power in the hands of the passenger. Harnessing digitisation to make it easier for people to choose a ‘green’ route to work, and to build a digital economy so we can ‘nudge’ and reward those behaviours.”

While much of the focus of the report Energising Our Electric Vehicle Transition is around cars due to the potential for rapidly reducing emissions, it also touches on minibuses, buses and coaches.

Three key priorities emerged:

  •  The urgency of developing standards and codes of practice to enable interoperability and the sharing of data within the EV sector and with the electricity system.
  • The need for effective local and national planning and co-ordination to enable efficient investment
  • The criticality of smart charging; underpinned by a resilient network and clear market signals, to reduce the cost of supplying millions of EVs.

These three priorities run through the 21 proposals made by the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce.

This report focuses on steps to remove potential barriers and reinforce enablers. It provides a focus on key issues and states when important questions have to be resolved.

Report and video here

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