With many drivers already making the shift to electric vehicles ahead of the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, a new study has found that local authorities in England are currently unprepared to make the switch themselves.
New research has highlighted an ‘alarming lack of local investment and awareness’ regarding the electric vehicle transition at council level, with fewer than one in 20 authority-ran vehicles being EVs.
Three quarters of authorities responding to a survey said 90 per cent or more of their cars, vans, HGVs and buses are petrol or diesel powered, and almost half have yet to set a date for when their fleets will be completely electrified.
‘Alarming lack of investment in EVs at council level’: Just 4.2% of all vehicles ran by local authorities are electric with most still running polluting petrol and diesel models, a report says
The research was conducted by telematics provider Geotab, which contacted 113 selected local authorities up and down the country to assess their electric vehicle policies.
Only 99 responded to its Freedom of Information request regarding the split of fuel types powering vehicles used for local parking enforcement, environmental wardens, maintenance, refuse, social services, and more.
The survey found that one in five (20 per cent) of responding authorities have yet to add an EV to their fleets.
On average, just 4.2 per cent of council-run vehicle at the moment are fully electric and 46 per cent of authorities contacted had yet to set a date for when they will have an entirely zero-emission fleet.
Of the authorities who did respond, Nottingham City Council had the highest share of EVs.
Over a third (34.9 per cent) of its existing vehicles are electrified as part of its aim to become completely zero-emission by 2028.
It is the first local council to operate an electric HGV and bus, with a total of 20 expected to be operational in the coming years, and has also launched an Electric Van Experience for Nottingham-based businesses to test drive a range of plug-in vans from brands including Maxus, Nissan, Renault and Toyota.
Nottingham City Council is leading the way with its EV transition, saying all its vehicles will be zero-emissions by 2028. It has also launched an electric van hire scheme for local businesses
Leeds City Council, Kingston Council, West Sussex County Council, and Winchester City Council were the only other authorities to report having 20 per cent or higher electrification amongst their fleets.
At the other end of the spectrum, 17 of the 99 responding authorities confirmed they had yet to add an EV to their vehicle line-up.
17 local authorities that have yet to add a single EV to their fleet
• Allerdale Borough Council
• Amber Valley Borough Council
• Cambridgeshire County Council
• Derbyshire Dales District Council
• Dorset Council
• Dudley Borough Council
• Ealing Council
• East Sussex County Council
• Fenland District Council
• Lincolnshire County Council
• Oxfordshire County Council
• Richmondshire District Council
• Rother District Council
• Staffordshire County Council
• Stratford-on-Avon District Council
• Sutton Borough
Source: Geotab following a Freedom of Information request to local authorities
*FOIs were issued to 113 local authorities across England in total that represent a diverse and varied nature of local authorities across the country. Those selected varied in: Population size; rural and urban split; local authority type (i.e. unitary authorities or county and district/borough/city) and 10 authorities were chosen from each of the nine regions of England
These included Cambridgeshire County Council, Dorset Council, Ealing Council, East Sussex County Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Staffordshire County Council and Stratford-on-Avon District Council.
When asked for reasoning for not adding more EVs to their fleets or setting target dates to run only zero emission cars, vans and other motors, respondents said the key barriers are the high cost and limited availability for specific types of vehicles, such as Heavy Goods Vehicles and buses.
More than half (54 per cent) said they have fewer than 50 charge points in their local areas – including public, home and depot chargers – and is therefore not yet in a suitable position to make the switch.
Authorities also said they are under a strain of limited resources, meaning they are unable to dedicate sufficient finances to upgrading their vehicle fleets.
‘The findings of this report demonstrate a worrying lack of investment by local authorities across England ahead of the switch to electric at the end of this decade,’ said David Savage, Vice President for Geotab in the UK.
’27 per cent of the UK’s emissions are attributed to transport, and fleets account for over 50 per cent of new vehicles on the road.
‘Public sector fleet operators are in a position to lead this strategic shift by example—but they need the necessary investment, funding, and tools to support the transition to 100% electric.’
The shift to zero emission vehicles is at the heart of the UK’s net zero strategy, with the transition set to accelerate at pace from 2030 when new petrol and diesel cars are no longer sold – and 2035 when the ban also extends to hybrid vehicles with both a combustion engine and electric motors.
The introduction of emission-related charging zones, including London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone and Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone, has already put additional pressure of local residents to switch to more eco-friendly vehicles, with pure electric cars incentivised as the ideal solution to avoid daily charges to enter city centres.
With fleet vehicles comprising over half of new vehicles on the road, Geotab says local authorities should expect to attract attention and scrutiny if they are unable to implement their own zero emission strategies.
When asked for reasoning for not adding more EVs to their fleets or setting target dates to run only zero emission cars, more than half said they don’t have enough charging points in the area
Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.