How will the rise in electric vehicles impact urban logistics and industrial developments?

Anthony Hynes Director, Head of Project Management
020 7657 1885
Read time: 4 mins
Category: Innovate

Driven by the wider global move away from petrochemicals towards greener more sustainable energy, the use of electric vehicles (EVs) is set to exponentially grow within the UK in the coming years.

Urgent consideration needs to be given as to how and where commercial EVs are charged. This, in turn, requires urban logistics and industrial developers to find solutions to meet the changing needs of occupiers, their operations and their customers.

Policy and legislation impacting on development specifications

There has been huge growth in the electric vehicle market over the last decade. In 2012, 130,000 electric vehicles were sold globally – this figure has now grown to 6.6 million, an almost 5,000 per cent increase over the course of the last decade

The sale of EVs now makes up nine per cent of the global market share of car sales, its highest ever figure. By 2030, this is predicted to exceed the 30 per cent mark and will be further driven by the UK government’s recently announced ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by the end of this decade.

The increase in popularity of EVs and several legislative changes will have significant consequences on the specification and design of new industrial developments.

In London, planning policy formerly dictated that a fifth of all parking spaces must have EV charging points, and a further fifth must have passive (where the infrastructure to support EV charging is set up beneath ground, and can be activated when required) charging points.

This policy changed in the London Plan 2021, which now seeks that 100 per cent of all operational vehicle parking “should make provision, including offering rapid charging”.

Nationally, Part S4 of the Building Regulations now requires non-residential buildings with more than 10 car parking spaces to have at least one space with access to an electric vehicle point, plus future provision via cable routes for a fifth (i.e. 20 per cent) of all remaining spaces.

Availability of power is the big issue

However, with an increase in the number of EVs in operation comes challenges around the availability of power. This is particularly pertinent in urban logistics where provision needs to be made to charge larger vehicles such as delivery vans.

Charging an electric van requires 22kW of power, in comparison to just 3.6kW or 7kW for an electric car, so the availability of power is a huge factor in being able to provide for the required amount of charging points.

Large-scale logistics operators such as Amazon are committing to 100 per cent electric fleets. Current infrastructure would make it almost impossible for developments to handle the required charging output implied by this. Logistics operations will likely require high-speed charging facilities to reduce operational downtime. These come with a requirement for further power.

The availability of power is going to be problematic for both businesses and developers, so it is important to consider alternative sources.

Having photovoltaics on the roofs of units can contribute to the generation of additional, greener electricity, however this solution alone wouldn’t be able to provide sufficient power needed to provide high speed charging facilities.

Scheme design being impacted

With a greater use of EVs, how and where charging points are located at a development needs to be considered to mitigate any operational impact.

For example, in an urban logistics operation, there will lots of vans coming and going from loading bays hence charging points cannot be located directly in or around the loading bay, as it would cause disruption.

The best location for the charging points would be away from the main building to ensure any vehicles repowering are not in the way. This is something which needs to be factored into the initial design and planning process, to ensure any potential interference is kept to a minimum.

Costs and usage considerations

From an operational perspective, staff usage of on-site charging points needs to be considered. Whereas previously, those commuting to work would, in the majority of instances, pay for their own petrol, they may now be able to charge their EVs at work.  However, whether or not these EV charging points will be free of charge is a quandary for employers.

With The RAC reporting a 21 per cent rise in the cost of charging an electric vehicle over the last nine months due to soaring energy costs, this could be a significant additional costs to businesses. Company policy needs to be formulated to overcome any contention.

Powering to the future with EVs

Climate change, ESG agendas and legislative change is driving the proliferation of EVs. But for this to be a success, the right infrastructure needs to be in place to enable efficient charging to take place.

This is highly important within the urban logistics sector. With delivery vans in particular playing a critical role, industrial developments need to cater for the changing operational needs of occupiers.

At Chancerygate, EV charging points have been provided at all of our developments for over five years and we consistently provide infrastructure over and above current planning policy regulations. Power provision is the major hurdle in our ability to go even further.

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