Solihull is leading the way on electric vehicle (EV) uptake and infrastructure in the West Midlands. With world EV day (Saturday 9 September) upon us again, we take a look at the exciting work being done locally to support the transition to cleaner more efficient road transport.
Earlier this week the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt was in Solihull to open the UK’s largest EV-charging hub. The NEC’s new ‘Gigahub’ includes more than 30 DC charging points that can fully charge a car in under 30 minutes, alongside a further 150 AC charging stations. This ambitious project has been developed by a three-way collaboration between the NEC, EV Network and BP Pulse, and represents the largest-ever private investment in a UK electric vehicle project to date.
During his visit the Chancellor also announced additional funding for EV infrastructure will be made available to local authorities across England via the Government’s £343 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) Capital Fund. Overseen by the Office for Zero Emissions, the LEVI fund is intended to support the cost of installing charge points in residential areas.
Working with other local authorities across the region, Solihull plans to access this funding in order to support the cost of the electrical connections that will enable 1,000 new public charge points in residential areas to support drivers without access to suitable off-street parking and who therefore may not be able to benefit from low-cost EV charging at home.
This comes as the Council prepares to announce a contract for new destination charging which will see a minimum of 200 new EV charging spaces installed within Council car parks and local centres by 2026. By providing charging speeds matched with typical parking dwell times, EV drivers will be able to charge their cars whilst they work, rest or play, using a single contactless payment and with no need to pay a separate parking fee. These new chargers, the first of which are likely to be installed next year, will be funded through private investment and supported by £800k which has already been secured through the West Midlands LEVI Pilot Project.
The Council also continues to transition its own vehicles into a fully electric zero tailpipe emission fleet by 2030. This year alone, a further eight EVs have been added, with over a third of fleet vehicles operated by Council staff set to be electric in 2024.
Since 2021, Council owned public EV chargers have provided drivers with over 200,000kWh of electricity across nearly 10,000 charging sessions, enough to power 600,000 electric miles supporting the borough’s net zero commitments and helping improve local air quality.
Councillor Andy Mackiewicz, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and Planning, said:
“Solihull has the highest proportion of electric vehicle ownership anywhere in the Midlands. We’re keen to support and capitalise on this by accelerating the expansion of our EV charging infrastructure ensuring the network is ready for increased demand in the future.
“With transport emissions making up nearly 40% of the borough’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, it’s vital to continue expanding our EV infrastructure at pace to ensure we remain on track as a borough to reach net zero emissions by 2041.”
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