Toolkit for Local Areas

Making the EV transition better for all

A New AutoMotive For Local Areas

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Key concepts for local electric vehicle planning

Richard Allan

Written by Richard Allan

Module length 30 minutes

Last updated

The aim of this Primer is to create a shared baseline of understanding for the various ideas and terms that we will explore as we go through the Toolkit.

Some of it will already be very familiar to people who work in local government and/or are already working on issues related to electric vehicles.

But, for others who are coming at this for the first time, it should help get you up and running by answering a lot of the questions that you have. It is organised into 4 sections covering key areas that will feature in the Toolkit - Geography, Population, Vehicles and Energy.

What Is 'local'?

The word ‘local’ can mean many different things and so we will start this Primer by looking at the variety of geographical schema that are used to slice up the territory of the United Kingdom for administrative and statistical purposes.

For this first version of the New AutoMotive Local Toolkit, we will be very much focused on Local Authority (LA) areas which can vary quite widely in terms of geographical size and population.

Over time, we plan to introduce more data that is associated with other sets of boundaries, for example postcode districts, as this can help us to be more granular in making estimates and plans.

In this section, we will walk you through some ways to explore the different kinds of boundaries and location data that are commonly used in the UK.

How can I learn about administrative and statistical areas?

When we want to understand which administrative and statistical areas apply to a particular location in the UK we typically look them up using latitude/longitude coordinates and/or a postcode.

For example, 10 Downing Street has the postcode SW1A 2AB and coordinates 51.503608683182506, -0.1276424819129249.

There are a number of different lookup tables provided by public and private organisations that will translate these coordinates and postcodes into administrative and statistical areas.

For people working in the public sector, this data is usually freely available as the government has paid for a sectoral license from bodies like Ordnance Survey and Royal Mail who own the original datasets.

People in the private and non-profit sectors will usually need to pay someone for a license if they want to do these lookups at scale. There is a good tool to see how all of this works called Mapit which is provided by the civic technology organisation MySociety.

You can put a postcode into Mapit and see the administrative areas it relates to for free and this is a great way to get familiar with the different types of boundaries if you are coming to this new. For example, the full data for 10 Downing Street.

If you want to do lots of lookups and automate them, and you are not within the government licensing regime, then there are a number of commercial providers offering this service for a fee including Mapit.

There are two useful resources provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that we would recommend if you want to explore the different geographical schema in more detail.

And the ONS has produced a wonderful printable poster showing the hierarchy of all the different geographical schema that is both daunting and illuminating.

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Understanding demand data for EVs in your area

An introduction to the kind of data we might want to understand current and future demands from electric vehicles (EVs) - how many EVs are on the road, how much are they are used, what do we know about local trends, and what kind of changes can we expect to see over time.

Icon representing updating data Evergreen, regularly updated datasets

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Sources of further information and examples of good practice.

Department for Transport

A wealth of resources on low emission and electric vehicles, including statistics, funding and chargepoint schemes.


Zap-Map helps EV drivers locate available charge points, plan their electric journeys with the route planner, pay for charging on participating networks and share updates with other drivers.

Electric Brighton

A great example of a community initiative promoting the adoption of electric vehicles in the Brighton and Hove area.

London Charge Point Dashboard

A project from the London Office of Technology and Innovation that pulls together data from multiple local authorities to produce a London-wide dashboard showing charge points and their usage.

Energy Saving Trust

The Energy Saving Trust publishes useful information and tools related to electric vehicles on their website.

Access further support from the New AutoMotive team

We want to transition to electric vehicles to be as fast and as smooth as possible. If you would benefit from one of our bespoke workshops, a talk with our team, or if have a request for a customised dataset, we’d love to hear from you.

Team: Ben Nelmes and Andrea Di Antonio
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