Electric car charging infrastructure at crisis point: Monthly new device installations need to rise by 288% if ministers are to meet their target of 300k chargers by 2030
The UK’s electric car charging infrastructure remains at crisis point with just 800 new devices being added per month, according to the latest official figures published by the Department for Transport.
It confirmed there were 37,055 public charging points in total on 1 January 2023, up from 34,637 devices at the start of October 2022.
This means that, on average, just 806 new chargers are being added to the public network per month – an installation rate that needs to increase to 3,130-a-month (a rise of 288 per cent) if the Government is to meet its promised target of having 300,000 devices nationwide by 2030.
That is the year it intends to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
In response to the disappointing growth in public charging, the Labour Party today accused Conservatives of ‘falling asleep at the wheel’ in regards to its failure to boost device number in recent years.
As ministers continue to push drivers to switch to battery cars now, further analysis of today’s figures shows that the current snail-paced growth in the nation’s public charging network is failing to keep pace with the acceleration in electric vehicle registrations.
While 8,680 new chargers were installed in the previous 12 months, this number pales in comparison to the 267,203 fully electric cars that entered the roads in 2022.
It means there is just one new device to every 31 EVs purchased last year.
The DfT’s official figures out today confirmed that 2,418 new public chargers were installed in the UK in the final three months of 2022. This is a quarterly increase of just 7 per cent.
In order to hit 300,000 nationwide devices that ministers have promised within the next seven years, the remaining quota of charging points as of today is a whopping 262,945.
For the Government to make its 2030 target a reality, quarterly installations will need to grow to 9,391 devices on average, This is Money calculates.
Official figures published today shows there were 37,055 public charging points in total on 1 January 2023, up from 34,637 devices at the start of October 2022. Annually, there has been a 31% growth in the public charging network, the DfT said
In order to hit 300,000 nationwide devices that ministers have promised within the next seven years, the remaining quota of charging points as of today is a whopping 262,945
With around 663,700 fully-electric cars on our roads, there is one public charger per every 18 battery powered vehicle in use in Britain today
Already, the number of available public locations is considered not suitable for the number of EVs being driven by motorists in this country.
With around 663,700 fully-electric cars on our roads, there is one public charger per 18 battery powered vehicles in use in Britain today.
This gulf in chargers to cars has widened dramatically in the last few years. Figures from 2020 show there were roughly 5.5 EVs to every available public charging device.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh (pictured) told the Commons today that the Government is ‘asleep at the wheel’ in regards to boosting the nation’s charging infrastructure
Labour said the current rate of charge point installation suggests the Government is on course to miss its 2030 target of having 300,000 public charge points by more than 20 years.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh, speaking in the House of Commons today, said: ‘There is no time to lose on charging infrastructure, but the Conservatives are asleep at the wheel.
‘Never-ending chaos in the Conservative Government has delayed key projects and risks stalling the switch to electric vehicles, leaving our world-class car industry in limbo.
‘Labour will help drive the electric vehicle transition, helping those on low to middle incomes with the up-front costs, and we will accelerate the roll-out of charging points to make it easier to own an electric car wherever you live.’
The AA says there is a desperate need for strict interim targets between now and the end of the decade to expand the network quicker.
With just 8,680 new public chargers added to our roads in the last 12 months, average installations need to accelerate to 37,564 per year – that’s more devices being added annually than there are available chargers in place today.
This level of growth would require a shift from the network’s current annual installation increase of 31 per cent to a massive 333 per cent rise in new devices.
Just 806 new chargers are being added to the public network per month on average. This installation rate needs to increase to 3,130-a-month if the Government is to meet its promised target of having 300k devices nationwide by 2030
The DfT says the number of total public charging points grew 31% to 37,055 devices last year. In terms of the fastest-charging rapid devices, an extra 1,731 were added to the network (up 34%) taking the total to 6,887 nationwide
The latest figures show that the number of rapid and ultra-rapid charging devices increased by 34 per cent with an additional 1,731 public devices installed in the previous 12 months.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy at the motoring group, said: ‘New EVs are flying off the factory floor, but we desperately need charge point installations to keep pace with an ever-growing demand.
Electric car public charging prices rocket 58% in eight months
Electric car drivers who want to charge their vehicles en-route are paying 58% more than they were in May, a recent market review by the RAC revealed.
The average cost to use a ‘rapid’ device across the different public charging operators in the UK at the start of January has risen to 70.32p per kilowatt hour, up from 44.55p eight months ago.
It says the owner of an electric family car with a 64kW battery will pay £36 to add around 188 miles of range, which works out at almost 20p per mile. In contrast, a driver of an equivalent petrol car will pay only around 17p-a-mile.
Driving the soaring cost to access the public charging network is the high wholesale price of electricity, which operators are passing onto consumers via ad-hoc price rises.
This has extended the running cost gap between plugging in an electric car at home and more expensive public devices – and in some cases it’s more than twice as expensive.
The RAC says it is growing increasingly concerned that the high cost of longer journeys in EVs will temper drivers’ appetite to switch to greener cars.
It said the sky-high cost of using the public network – on top of relatively high battery vehicle prices – ‘risks dissuading drivers from opting for them over keeping their existing petrol and diesel vehicles’.
‘With a target of 300,000 publicly available charge points by 2030 and just 37,055 installations in place, more focus is needed to accelerate the nation’s charging infrastructure.
‘We urge the government to set marker post targets in place so drivers can see the progress is being made while giving those nervous to switch the confidence to do so.’
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes warns EV drivers will ‘quickly become disillusioned and frustrated’ if there is not ample charging availability.
‘Data already shows a record number of electric vehicles per public charging point, so we strongly urge the Government to introduce annual installation targets and do whatever it takes to make it easier for operators to install new charging hubs,’ he said.
‘It should also be noted that rapid and ultra-rapid chargers currently account for just a fifth of all the network and are growing at a slower rate.
‘If people are to make longer journeys quickly and easily, we need to eradicate the rapid charging ‘deserts’ that exist and make the fastest possible chargers available much more widely.’
The lack of charging points – as well as expensive plug-in costs – is among the biggest hurdles holding back Britain’s electric car revolution.
The challenge was laid bare over Christmas when motorway charging points were overwhelmed and queues of Tesla cars built up as families travelled to visit relatives. And concerns are mounting that parts of the country are being left behind.
With an average of just 26 new public chargers added to the network per day in the last three months, dedicated EV website Electrifying.com has called on the Government to appoint a ‘charging lead’ to oversee the rollout of infrastructure.
It said: ‘The person in this role would work closely with industry to ensure that charge points are installed in places people need them the most, for example on motorways when drivers are making long journeys.’
Thom Groot, co-founder and CEO of The Electric Car Scheme, says there is now an ‘urgent need’ for more investment in charging infrastructure.
He told us: ‘For the electric revolution to really take off, we need electric drivers to have the confidence that there are enough public charge points for them to use.
‘Transport is the UK’s number one source of emissions, and if we are going to reach our Net Zero goals we will need to move rapidly here.
‘Luckily, most people with electric cars are able to charge them at home. But we want everyone to be able to enjoy electric cars – including people who don’t have off-street parking available.’
By region, the figures show that London and Scotland have the best networks per 100,000 of population, with 131 and 69 devices per 100k inhabitants respectively
Northern Ireland has the lowest level of charging device provision in the UK, with 19 devices per 100,000, followed by the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber with 31 and 36 devices per 100,000 respectively
Coventry, Milton Keynes, Brighton, London (based on figures published for the capital as a whole and not by borough) and Stirling are among the best towns and cities to own an electric car, based on the number of devices per population
The towns and cities with the best and worst public charging availability
On average, the UK currently had 55 public charging points per 100,000 people.
By region, the figures show that London and Scotland have the best networks per 100,000 of population, with 131 and 69 devices per 100,000 inhabitants respectively.
In contrast, Northern Ireland has the lowest level of charging device provision in the UK, with 19 devices per 100,000, followed by the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber with 31 and 36 devices per 100,000 respectively.
According to analysis the EV charging app Bonnet, the best town or city to own an electric car currently is Coventry – while the worst is thought to be Castle Point in Essex.
Using the latest public statistics published by the government today, it ranked the best and worst towns in the UK for public charging based on how many devices there are per 100,000 people.
Top areas, according to government data, also include Milton Keynes, Brighton and Hove and Stirling.
Due to its small population, Bonnet found that the Orkney Islands had the second most chargers per capita in the UK.
Locations with the least number of chargers per 100,000 people included Brentwood, Bolton, Wigan and Selby, which is referred to as some of the nation’s ‘charging deserts’ that have very few devices available at all.
Bonnet’s CEO, Patrick Reich, said the latest Government statistics show a continuation of a clear north-south divide in terms of which regions are best served with public chargers.
‘This data shows there remains many large and vast charging deserts in the UK,’ he told us.
‘As millions more continue to transition into electric cars, we need to see these blown away with new chargers.
‘We know from many of the charging operators we work with that this is something that will improve throughout this year.
‘It’s not surprising that the best towns to charge at publicly are predominately in the South, where fewer people have off-street parking and rely on public chargers, meanwhile regions in the North and East continue to be less well served by public infrastructure.
‘This needs to shift quickly if the UK wants to continue to serve its growing EV population and decarbonise transport.’
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