UK’s car to public charge point ratio worsens despite EV push

The United Kingdom's ambition to become a leader in electric vehicle (EV) adoption faces significant hurdles as a recent report from the House of Lords highlights a deteriorating ratio of cars to public charge points across the country from 2019 to 2022. Titled "EV Strategy: Rapid Recharge Needed", the comprehensive study underscores the growing challenge of providing adequate charging infrastructure to meet the rising demand for electric vehicles.
A map of the UK shows the developments in the car-to-public charge point ratio for Electric Vehicles from 2019 to 2022 across different regions. Numbers for each year are displayed, with color-coded shading indicating these changes. Source: UK House of Lords.

According to the analysis, conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and based on Department for Transport data, every region in the UK has seen the ratio of Charge Points to EVs worsen over the specified period. This decline is particularly acute in Northern Ireland, the South West, the South East, and the North West, where the ratio of Charge Points to EV ownership numbers exceeds 100:1, raising concerns about the country’s preparedness for the EV transition.

The report further reveals startling disparities in the distribution of public chargers across the UK, with more public chargers located in Westminster alone than in major cities like Liverpool, Leeds, and Manchester combined. This uneven distribution underscores the challenges facing both urban and rural residents, with the latter often lacking off-street parking and thus being more dependent on public charging options.

The Lords’ report draws attention to the critical issue of “charge anxiety” among potential EV buyers, which is exacerbated by insufficient and unevenly distributed charging infrastructure. James Taylor, Managing Director at Vauxhall Motors, is quoted describing charge anxiety as “the biggest barrier to consumer demand today.”

In response to these challenges, the UK Government’s March 2022 Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy set a target of at least 300,000 public Charge Points by 2030. While progress has been made, with the number of public Charge Points reaching 50,000 as of November 2023, stakeholders express concerns that the current growth rate and distribution efforts may not be sufficient to meet future demand or address regional disparities.

The Lords’ report calls for urgent government action to accelerate the deployment of charging infrastructure, emphasising the need for a more equitable distribution across regions and socio-economic groups. The government is considering introducing new powers to direct local authorities in areas with fewer than 50 public Charge Points per 100,000 people to prepare comprehensive EV strategies.

This report not only highlights the critical importance of ramping up the UK’s charging infrastructure but also the necessity for a strategic approach that ensures equitable access to Charge Points across the country. As the UK pushes towards its ambitious 2030 EV adoption targets, addressing the current shortcomings in its charging network will be paramount to overcoming “charge anxiety” and enabling a smoother transition to electric mobility.

Source: EV Strategy: Rapid Recharge Needed | House of Lords

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