Driving change with EVA England

Gill Nowell, Director of the Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England, talks about why the group was created and what it hopes to achieve now that it’s in a position to welcome members.

There’s a new EV association in town. Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England opened its doors to members on 16 March 2021, almost a year to the day since the volunteer Board met over Zoom for the first time. EVA England incorporated as a non-profit Community Interest Company in June 2020, set up to offer a voice to both current and prospective EV drivers in England, with the aim of providing up to date, reliable information about EVs and smart charging, as well as promoting the health and environmental benefits of electric vehicles. 

EVA England was created, from the outset, to be a membership organisation that represents its members and the wider EV driver community. Much discussion was had in the early days as to what our core values should be and what we should offer, mindful of the excellent work that is already delivered for EV drivers by the many local, regional and indeed national members groups, podcasts and other active voices that all have the common goal of supporting EV uptake. As the new kid on the EV block, we prioritised stakeholder engagement and collaboration from the outset – with EV Groups Nexus (the umbrella group of local and regional EV groups in the UK), EVA Scotland, NIEVO in Northern Ireland, EV clubs in Wales and IEVOA in Ireland, and with the Global EV Alliance. 

As it builds its membership base, it will serve and listen to its members on the topics they find to be the most important to develop in order to support living with or switching to an EV. EVA England wants to be the mouthpiece for its members with eyes and ears firmly on members’ needs.

Indeed, one of the first things it did in summer 2020 was to issue a ‘prospective members’ survey’ to understand what EVA England should offer its future members. The survey found that almost 90% of the 274 respondents wanted ‘Policy and Campaigning’, whilst just over 70% wanted ‘Unbiased Advice’. Almost 70% wanted ‘Support for Local Initiatives’, with 60% keen to benefit from ‘Discounted Products and Services’. The survey revealed clear consumer demand for a collective voice for EV drivers and has been instrumental in shaping the direction of EVA England’s activities and member benefits package. 

So, who runs EVA England and how is it funded? EVA England is run by a Board of seven volunteers, with one paid staff member. The majority of the Board are electric car drivers themselves. Discover the low down on EVA England’s Board members here. In terms of funding, initial funding was secured to take on one paid staff member in Autumn 2020. A key activity in the last year has been to set up a robust customer management system (an absolute must for managing members and their personal information), as well as a range of engagement and planning activities. Revenue from a mix of sources is essential in order to be sustainable and continue to work hard for the EV driver community. It’s a fact that many funders will not consider funding a non-profit that makes no effort to bring in its own revenue streams – hence in order to secure further funding and become truly sustainable, the Board recognised early on, the need to set up a paid membership model. Over the last six months EVA England has been developing a range of member benefits, and has started advocacy work to Government for EV drivers, thanks to grant funding. Membership fees will help to sustain and build upon this effort, whilst at the same time members will be able to help steer the direction of this work. 

The Board has worked hard and strategically to gain traction and build its reputation as an organisation committed to making a difference on behalf of EV drivers. As an advocacy organisation, it has been essential to forge relationships with key Government departments before opening its doors to members, undertaking a series of engagements with the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, opposition spokespeople, and interested MPs and Peers on electric vehicles, as well as meeting with the Department of Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS) officials focusing on smart charging opportunities. The EVA England survey on the 2030 phase out date resulted in a report being delivered to Government with the views of over 1,100 consumers enclosed. The Board has also responded to the Treasury’s call for evidence on Vehicle Excise duty, launched to industry at the Zemo Partnership and Ministerial-backed EV Energy Taskforce (EVA England now sits on its consumer-focused working group). In addition, EVA England has responded to the Competition and Markets Authority EV Charging Market Study, and provided evidence to the Transport Select Committee on Zero Emission Vehicles and Road Pricing.

A key piece of work has been the survey of over 1,250 EV drivers which will feed into EVA England’s response to the Government’s consultation on the consumer experience on public electric vehicle chargepoints. EVA England hopes that this will lead to a significant improvement in consumers’ ease and access to EV charging.

EVA England also works with the industry and media to share drivers’ views on different topics, and has worked closely with New Automotive and Octopus Electric Vehicles to deliver a case study campaign to bring real electric car drivers’ views and experiences to a wider audience. You can catch the webinar on the results, here.

Although EVA England has only recently opened to members, it has been working hard behind the scenes to push for EV drivers’ voices to be heard in the media (coverage in The Times, The Telegraph, Good Housekeeping and Fully Charged amongst others is testament to this), to help encourage the public to make the switch to electric vehicles. A growing membership base will mean that it can continue to work hard for its members on issues closest to their hearts.

EVA England members will have the opportunity to have their voices heard on policy issues, as well as receiving an exclusive membership pack, a charging etiquette guide, as well as access to further guides and support. As both membership and demand grow, members will also have access to specially organised events, and a variety of discounted services and products. 

A highlight of EVA England’s opening membership offer is that all members can benefit from £50 off any electric car home charger on the Rightcharge website. And hot on the wheels of its recent launch, there is a new offer for members, in the guise of a £50 discount on an EV subscription from Onto. This discount on an EV subscription has the potential to allow more people to try an electric car without any long-term commitment for any time period from 30 days upwards.

So, if you are a current or prospective EV driver, or just ‘EV curious’ come and join the EV community as a member of EVA England. You can find a wealth of EV information on the EVA England website, membership costs £20 a year, and joining is easy. Find everything you need, here: https://www.evaengland.org.uk/

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