Plug-in charging points not keeping up with surging vehicle sales study finds

Published:  01 December, 2021


The ratio of vehicle chargepoints to plug-in cars dropped by 31% during 2020, according to a new study from the SMMT, and the organisation is calling for charging infrastructure targets to match the growth in the sales of these vehicles, which now account for one in six new cars sold.

According to the research, 11 plug-in vehicles potentially shared a standard public for battery electric (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) at the end of 2019. However, by the end of 2020, the ratio had fallen to one charger for every 16 plug-ins.

Britain’s ratio of plug-in vehicles on the road to standard public chargers is now one of the worst among the top 10 global electric vehicle markets at 16:1 in 2020. In contrast, South Korea has a ratio of 3:1, the Netherlands is at 5:1, China is at 9:1, France is on 10:1, while Belgium and Japan both field 13:1. The UK is still doing better than Germany, which is sitting on 17:1.

4,109 new standard public charge points were installed between January and September 2021, compared with 212,181 new plug-in car registrations. This means one new standard charger is being installed for every 52 new electric cars.

London has the best ratio of cars to chargers at 10:1, but this fell from 5:1 in 2019 as plug-in vehicle sales soared. Conversely, the East of England has the lowest at 49:1. Wales exceeds the UK average with a ratio of 12:1, while Scotland is slightly behind at 17:1.

The government’s Rapid Charging Fund has allotted £950m for rapid and ultra-rapid chargepoints. Meanwhile, £620m was earmarked for zero-emission vehicle grants and infrastructure in the Net Zero Strategy. There has also been legislation announced that will require all new-build homes will include an electric vehicle charging point. However, according to SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes, more is still needed: “Appetite for electric vehicles has never been higher, but making Britain a net zero nation means convincing everyone, wherever they live, that an electric car can meet their needs. Those who can’t have their own home charge point need the confidence that they can still charge as conveniently as they can refuel. A deteriorating ratio of public charge points to cars will drain that confidence.”

He added: “Recent government funding for infrastructure was welcome but more private sector investment in public charge points is needed across the country. The UK therefore needs a framework of regulation that makes it easier to fund, build and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Consequently we need commensurate and binding targets for charge point rollout and reliability so that all those without a driveway or designated parking can be confident of finding a convenient charger, and one that works.”

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