Government's £400m Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund set to launch this Spring

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Zouk Capital announced as ‘preferred bidder’ to manage high profile electric vehicle infrastructure investment fund

The government’s plans to mobilise around £400m of investment in the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure took a step forward this week, after it was announced that Zouk Capital has been appointed as the ‘preferred bidder’ to manage the planned Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF).

The private equity fund manager confirmed it is entering into exclusive negotiations with the government to manage the fund, which will bring together £200m of Treasury investment and £200m of match funding from the private sector.

The fund was first announced in the Autumn Budget of 2017 and is seen as a crucial component of the government’s wide-ranging plans to accelerate the roll out of EVs.

Sales of EVs have soared in recent years, prompting analysts to warn the roll out of charging infrastructure, and in particular fast-charging units, could struggle to keep pace with future demand.

The government said the dual policy objectives of the CIIF were to “enable faster expansion of public EV charging networks and to increase the amount of capital invested in the sector via a catalytic effect”.

It added that Zouk Capital has extensive experience in investing in EV charging infrastructure and was selected after a “detailed bidding process” run by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

The fund will invest in UK companies and platforms across the full breadth of the public EV charging sector, with the goal of delivering a commercial return for the government and private sector investors.

Subject to negotiations, the fund is now expected to launch in Spring 2019.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, hailed the announcement as “a crucial step in our plans to safeguard our environment”. 

“We want to increase the number of electric cars on our roads, but to achieve this we need to ensure drivers have access to the right infrastructure, including charge points,” he said. “That’s why the Chancellor announced £400 million of investment to make this a reality, revolutionising the way we travel, creating jobs and protecting our natural environment for future generations.”

Samer Salty, managing partner of Zouk Capital, said the investment firm was “delighted to have been selected as preferred bidder by the UK Government for this important mandate to create the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund”.

“The CIIF sets the UK government at the forefront internationally of support measures required for the electric vehicles ecosystem to flourish,” he added. “This fund will build a lasting public EV charging network that runs on clean energy, is fully open access and highly reliable to meet the needs of EV drivers today and give those yet to join the EV revolution the confidence to do so.”

The news comes in the same week as the Guardian reported on a recent study that suggests EVs are already cheaper than petrol or diesel alternatives on a total cost of ownership (TCO) basis in at least five European countries.

A raft of studies have previously suggested EVs should undercut conventional vehicles on a TCO basis in the early 2020s before undercutting petrol and diesel models on upfront costs later in the decade.

But a report from the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) analysed the purchase, fuel, and tax costs for the VW Golf across its electric, hybrid, petrol, and diesel models and found the pure electric version was cheaper over four years in all of the countries analysed: the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The research suggested that a combination of lower fuel costs, reduced insurance and maintenance costs, lower taxes, and grants more than offset the higher purchase price typically associated with EVs over the course of a typical four year ownership period.