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EV charging: home and away

EV charging points will be part of every new house from next year, but public charging stations are struggling to cope with customer demand

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One of the greatest worries an owner of an electric vehicle can have – being able to charge up while out on the road – is in the news following an industry announcement about the number of available charging points in the UK.

New analysis by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) claims that the ratio of vehicle charging points to plug-in cars dropped by 31% during 2020. The group says that at the end of 2019, 11 plug-in vehicles potentially shared a standard public charge point – compared with the end of 2020, when the ratio was one charger for every 16 plug-ins.  

This might be eased from next year when fresh rules over new house builds come into force, requiring new homes and offices to have EV charging points installed. 

Source: SMMT

While most people who currently buy an electric vehicle are likely to be able to plug in at home, on a driveway or designated parking bay, achieving ‘net zero’ requires all drivers to make the switch, including those who depend on on-street parking.  

The SMMT claims that only 4,109 new standard public charge points installed between January and September 2021, although data from respected EV site Zap-Map suggests that 7,002 public charge points have been installed between January and 7 December 2021, which is a higher monthly run rate.

What the SMMT has not suggested is a number that it thinks the UK should be targeting. At 16 plug-in cars for every plug, the UK is still one of the world leaders for EV infrastructure roll-out, although not generous as the very best in the world (South Korea has 3 plugs for every plug-in car, while the Netherlands has a 5:1 ratio).

There are also significant regional disparities in the current provision of standard public charging points. London has the best ratio of cars to chargers at 10:1 – although this in itself fell from 5:1 in 2019. Meanwhile, the East of England has the lowest availability, with just one standard public charger for every 49 plug-in vehicles.

Wales beats the national average with a ratio of 12:1, while Scotland weighs in at 17:1 (which, incidentally, is the same as Germany, another leader in EV motoring).

Investments are being made in public charging with the Government’s Rapid Charging Fund allocating £950 million to rapid and ultra-rapid charge points, the £620 million for zero-emission vehicle grants and infrastructure announced in the Net Zero Strategy, along with the commitment that all new build homes will include an EV charging point.

“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,” says Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.

“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.”

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.