Government: 300,000 EV chargepoints by 2030

Published:  25 March, 2022

The Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy puts financial backing and a roadmap in place for infrastructure roll-out, but will it be enough? 

The government has confirmed its plan to expand the UK’s EV charging network, with a goal of 300,000 public EV chargepoints by 2030, which works out at five times the number of fuel pumps currently in the UK.

Announced via the Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy, the target will be backed up by £1.6 billion of government funding. £500 million will be dedicated to public chargepoints, which includes a £450 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, intended to support the roll-out of EV hubs and on-street charging for those without driveways.
A pilot scheme for the LEVI fund enables local authorities to compete for a portion of £10 million of funding. The LEVI funding also includes up to £50 million for staff to work on local chargepoint planning. Providers will also be legally required to offer contactless payment, and provide real-time data on pricing.

Meanwhile, the £950 million Rapid Charging Fund, which was already in place, will fund up to 6,000 super-fast chargepoints across England’s motorways by 2035. Operators are already set to install an additional 15,000 rapid chargepoints across England’s road network and over 100,000 on-street chargepoints by 2025.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’re powering ahead with plans to help British people go electric, with our expanding charging network making journeys easier right across the country. Clean transport isn’t just better for the environment, but is another way we can drive down our dependence on external energy supplies. It will also create new high-skilled jobs for our automotive and energy sectors and ultimately secure more sustainable and affordable motoring for all.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps observed: “No matter where you live, be that a city centre or rural village, the north, south, east or west of the country, we’re powering up the switch to electric and ensuring no one gets left behind in the process.

“The scale of the climate challenge ahead of us all is well known and decarbonising transport is at the very heart of our agenda. That’s why we’re ensuring the country is EV-fit for future generations by the end of this decade, revolutionising our charging network and putting the consumer first.”

In response to the government’s infrastructure strategy, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said: “The EV infrastructure strategy points in the right direction, addressing problems with the current customer charging experience and setting out a nationally co-ordinated, locally delivered plan which aims to build ahead of need. The UK already has an enviable and ever-growing rapid charging network, so focus must be given to expanding public on-street and destination charging provision.”

Mike added: “Every stakeholder will have to play their part in this transition but, if industry and consumers are to have the certainty they need to invest, commensurate and binding targets must be set for infrastructure provision. Deployed nationally and at pace, this expansion would give drivers confidence they will be able to charge as easily as they would refuel, wherever they are.”

According to Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), for consumer uptake to continue, infrastructure investment is vital: "We have repeatedly highlighted that the ability to seamlessly charge an electric vehicle represents one of the key barriers to consumers' uptake of EVs.

"It is encouraging that the government has committed to increasing the number and improving the quality of chargepoints across the UK. An efficient charging infrastructure is vital to boost consumer confidence, drive transport decarbonisation and meet the 2030 deadline. We will continue to engage with government departments to encourage a structured approach to continue to improve the UK charging infrastructure.”

While he sees the announcement as good news in broad terms, Aidan McClean, co-founder and CEO of EV car rental provider UFODRIVE and author of the book Electric Revolution, believes more action is needed: “The government’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy has not come a moment too soon, for both the EV market and Britain’s efforts in battling climate change. When the government acts decisively, it not only gives consumers the confidence to continue buying EVs, but also gives the private sector the impetus to invest, build and contribute towards this future.

“This is a great start, but more will be needed, and it is nothing without telling the truth about EVs; how vital they are for tackling climate change, and how practical and realistic they can be given the right infrastructure and environment. We hope to see the government lead with this message.

He continued: “Giving Britain the confidence to drive electric requires three things; Innovative software and plentiful data, a network of rapid charging points throughout our roads and homes, and a steadfast plan to give consumers the confidence to buy and the private sector the assurance they need to build and invest. Firstly, and most importantly, is ensuring there is a network of rapid chargepoints. The government strategy is light on how this will be achieved. There are some innovative solutions, but it must go further. For example, all car park operators, say with 50 spaces or more, private and public, must be mandated to provide at least 20% of parking spots with access to a charge point.

“To enact such a radical change in infrastructure needs both local and national authorities – and a significant investment. A £450 million LEVI Fund to boost local projects such as on-street charging, along with the existing £950m Rapid Charging Fund to rollout 6,000 high powered, rapid chargepoints across England’s motorways by 2035, is no small task.

“Having the charging network, particularly rapid chargers, is vital to tackling range anxiety, and it’s great to see the government put the funding into this that it deserves. However, considering Britain has 30 million cars on its roads, it may not be enough, and EV infrastructure is one of those things that must be all or nothing if people are going to take the plunge.”

Aidan added: “Another vital component is data, easily accessible and in real-time, so people have the confidence to know they can get where they are going. We are thrilled to see that the government is mandating that operators provide real-time data about chargepoints, including location and price, as well as the ability to pay with ease via a modern, contactless or app-based solution. The primary issue is, and remains, connectivity, not just the number of apps. Ultimately, the experience must be seamless to bring the car, the driver, and the charger together, and this should remain a key focus.”

Ian Johnston, CEO at rapid EV charge point network operator Osprey Charging observed: “The announcement by the government is an important step towards ensuring that we have the right number of charging points in all locations across the UK. This is crucial to give everyone the confidence that when they make the switch to electric, they will be able to charge as easily as they refuel today, whenever and wherever they are. These charging stations simply must be reliable, easy to navigate and importantly, accessible for all.

“There are already many billions of pounds of private investment committed for the deployment of charging infrastructure across the UK from networks like Osprey, and the announcements will allow this funding to provide the critical infrastructure to the areas that are as yet underserved, most notably motorway service areas and local authority towns.”

Richard Bartlett, Senior Vice President, bp pulse, observed: “This investment is vital to provide the charging infrastructure the UK needs. We’re investing to build a world-class network. This investment allows us to deliver more. More high-speed charging in dedicated hubs and on existing fuel and convenience sites. More home charging services, and crucial enhancements to our digital technology that will make charging fast, easy and reliable.”

One of the key parts of the plan is a focus on contactless payment that will be uniform across all providers. According to Joel Teague, CEO of home electric charger sharing app
Co Charger, this could be a stumbling block for the strategy: “The government's 1.6 billion Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy proposals show a welcome commitment to EV uptake. We are especially pleased to see the government highlighting the need for resilience and reliability. To date, this has been a major issue. It's frustrating when motorists travel to public chargers only to find them not working. Trust in the infrastructure is essential for an effective transition to EVs. However, we do have reservations about some of the proposals, for example, insisting that all the current infrastructure uses contactless payments could be challenging and make the roll out slower and more expensive.”

Community charging
Community charging, where motorists with home chargers rent them to neighbours who do not have them, is also part of the plan. Richard commented: “At Co Charger we were delighted to see Community charging included in the Strategy. For the estimated 14 million motorists who can't have a car charger at home this can provide access to bookable, reliable, affordable charging and finally allow them to run an electric vehicle. Community charging means that rather than waiting for future private, national, and local government investment in charging infrastructure to be rolled out, communities can revolutionise the EV charging network now.

“At Co Charger we have found that people are very willing to share their chargers, having come from zero to over 2,700 available charge points and 7,500 users in less than 15 months.
There are around 30,000 public charge point devices in the UK, and 400,000 home chargers. If only one in ten of the latter were shared with neighbours, it would double the number of available chargers overnight. Not everyone can share their charge point, for example if they don't have somewhere to put their own car while someone else uses it. For those who can, it's a quick, cheap, self-scaling and universally beneficial solution that saves tax-payers’ money and shows the answer isn't just investing in more infrastructure, it's in better use of what we already have.”

He added: “It's time for motorists and everyone working in sustainable transport to help bring about change and start creating a charge point sharing culture across the UK.”

Investment and ambition
Phil Shadbolt OBE, founder and CEO of electric vehicle charging brand EZ-Charge said while the new strategy is more than welcome, he believes that the move to make charge points more accessible is a real game changer: “The announcement of the new funding is one thing and is certainly very welcome, but it’s the introduction of the new legislation I’m most pleased about. For too long, many charge point operators have tried to force customers to use only their networks by making them pay a membership fee or download an app to charge. This is not only really inconvenient EV drivers, it’s really off-putting to those thinking about making the switch.”

He added: “Forcing operators to do away with these kinds of outdated practices and make the UK’s charging infrastructure work for everybody will be a big step forward.”

Alex Kynoch, government sector lawyer at law firm Browne Jacobson agreed that the issue of access across networks is vital: “The ability to compare pricing is critical because funding models for charge point infrastructure often include exclusivity deals which can limit consumer choice and convenience. On-street residential charging for those without off-street parking is a huge challenge for this government. EVs are particularly well suited for cities, and it’s critical that residents, particularly delivery drivers and taxi drivers, can charge their vehicles overnight. However, while making funding available to boost these projects is welcome, it is only the first step in rolling out affordable and convenient solutions for consumers.”

Alex concluded: “It will be interesting to see how the funding will be distributed and allocated. Innovative companies will want to look out and see if they can obtain funding to support their new solutions, and local authorities will need support to roll out charge point infrastructure at scale, whether through charging hubs or otherwise.”

More to come
As part of the announcement, the government also set forth what it described as an automotive roadmap that puts in place joint government and industry commitments to achieve the decarbonisation of road transport. More are set to follow for other sectors, as part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, which will show how the UK intends to fulfil its environmental pledges.

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