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Fri, 01/12/2018 - 10:23 -- sdukbewiser

Is the UK ready for electric cars? Just one public charge point was added for every six electric vehicles sold in 2017

Fri, 12/01/2018
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Is the UK ready for electric cars? Just one public charge point was added for every six electric vehicles sold in 2017

Whilst Norway is making electric cars much more accessible, the UK still have a way to go before they become more popular that their petrol and diesel counterparts.

Rob Hull, The Mail Online, reports:

With motorists told they will have to forget buying a new solely petrol or diesel car by 2040, is the UK really ready for an electric vehicle takeover?

Not according to a new report, which found that less than one new public charger was added to the road network last year for every six electric and plug-in hybrid car bought by Britons in the same period.

Motoring title Auto Express said a total of 3,178 public connectors of varying charge speeds were installed in 2017 - to a network already considered to be lagging behind where it should be - while more than 20,000 new plug-in vehicles were registered between January and the end of September.

At the beginning of 2017, there were 10,986 public charging points in 4,042 locations in the UK.

Fast forward 12 months and those numbers rose to 14,093 individual chargers across 918 new locations taking the total to 4,960 places where you can replenish the batteries of your low-emissions car,  according to data from charging infrastructure site ZapMap.

Not all of the new installations are the same with more than 40 different providers looking after the charging network up and down the country with varying costs associated.

How does this compare to the number of plug-in vehicles on our roads?

According to Department for Transport stats, some 113,000 low-emissions plug-in vehicles have been bought by Britons - but that's excluding quadricycles like the Renault Twizy and electric-powered cars and vans.

These figures are based on the vehicles sold that were eligible to apply for the government-funded plug-in car grant.

This offers to pay £4,500 towards models that produce less than 50g/km of carbon dioxide and can travel for more than 70 miles using electric power or £2,500 towards the price of a plug-in car emitting the same level of CO2 and covering more than 10 miles under zero-emissions power.

When you do factor the entire public charging infrastructure, there is just one plug-in post per every eight vehicles that need to use them. Even in Britain's major towns and cities many people do not live or work within walking distance of a charge point.

Charging problems could have been a worse case if more UK drivers switched to zero-emissions vehicles, as they have in other European countries.

In fact, there were more electric and hybrid cars sold in Norway last year than new petrol and diesel models, with low-emissions cars accounting for 52 per cent of all 2017 registrations. 

In November, chancellor Philip Hammond committed a £100 million investment for the continuation of the plug-in car grant and promised a further £400 million of government spending to go towards boosting the nation's charging infrastructure.

What do the charging points offer?

Not all the existing plug-in points are the same and can be broken down into three different categories:

  • Slow chargers that use a traditional three-pin socket connection
  • Fast chargers that provide between 7 and 22 kilowatts of charging power
  • Rapid points with the shortest plug-in periods with 50kW or higher capacity

Tesla’s Supercharger network, which is only available to owners of the American brand's expensive vehicles, was omitted from the research.

Auto Express said that Scotland was currently in the strongest position, mainly thanks to its investment through ChargePlace Scotland.

Around six per cent of all UK licensed plug-in cars belong to Scottish owners, however 15 per cent of all fast and rapid chargers are located north of the border.

It said the figures made 'grim reading for early adopter in Wales', which has just a tenth of the total number of the most powerful charge points compared to Scotland.

But it was the West Midlands that came out worst overall - the figures showed that there was just one public plug-in point per every 22 vehicles in the area.

David Martell, chief executive of Chargemaster - the UK's largest public charging network provider - said the figures are not entirely representative of the current infrastructure, as it doesn't take into account the number of home charge points and plug-in installations at work places all over the country.

'There are well over 100,000 dedicated EV charging points in total when home and workplace units are taken into account,' Martell told Auto Express.

'By 2022, we expect there to be around 100,000 public charging points, with around 20 per cent of these being rapid chargers.'

You can find out how much it costs to charge an electric car at home by reading our guide.

Commenting on the Government's announcement last year that all new cars sold by 2040 would have to be part or fully electric, RAC roads policy spokesman Nicholas Lyes said: 'Right now public charging facilities are patchy, there is very little on-street charging in residential areas and, unlike filling up a car with petrol or diesel, drivers cannot recharge a vehicle in a matter of minutes.'

In November, Ubitricity confirmed it would be installing 50 new street lamp charge point conversions in London to boost the capital's infrastructure.

These 'SimpleSockets' swap the lamp bulbs for low-energy LED replacements and then tap into the unused power taken from the grid to provide an on-street charging solution for electric cars without the addition of new road furniture.

Investing in more charging points to not only meet, but exceed demand, should go a long way to encourage those in the market to buy a new car to opt for an electric model.

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