UK needs to double daily installations of chargers to meet EV demand

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Britain needs to increase its installation of public charge points from 27 per day to 50 if it is to meet electric vehicle demand ahead of the ban on sales on new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars, a new report warns.

There are currently around 24,000 public chargers, with at least 230,000 needed by 2035 if motorists are going to have convenient access for plugging in their zero-emission models, analysis by transport research group New AutoMotive claims.

It warns that the Government’s green targets could be ‘undermined’ if charger installations are not upped by an adequate rate to meet the growing demand for EVs with the ban on new internal combustion engine cars eight years away.

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New AutoMotive calculates that between 230,000 and 280,000 public charge points are needed by 2030. 

The report says there are approximately 10 electric vehicles on the road per pubic chargers, which is already higher than the level recommended by the EU. 

With battery electric car sales booming, including record registrations last month, the devices per vehicle ratio could continue to increase, threatening the uptake of EVs if drivers think infrastructure is not sufficient.

Uptake of EVs is set to spiral in the coming years with the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars set to be introduced in 2030, and a latter deadline for hybrid vehicles in 2035.

The Committee on Climate Change has already sound the alarm on the need for more public charging devices, saying some 480,000 could be required by the end of the decade – which far exceeds what New AutoMotive’s more conservative projection calculates.

The latter’s analysis said an average of 27 devices each day had been added to the road network in 2020 but between 40 and 50 are needed by 2035 to match the ‘exponential growth of the UK electric vehicle market’.  

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Its first of a new annual report called State of Switch it also warns MPs that the continued growth in hybrid sales risk ruining UK’s chances of hitting net zero targets due to the volume of emissions produced by this vehicle type.

It also suggests that drivers will save in excess of £700 per annum on fuel costs each year by switching to electric cars now. 

Gi Fernando, chair of New AutoMotive said: ‘The UK needs a rapid transition to electric cars to get ahead in the global race, bring down the cost of driving and to meet our environmental commitments. 

‘As our report finds, the UK has made great progress with sales of electric cars booming. But there remains a long way to go before every car on the road is electric. 

‘We’ve seen a huge uptake in EV sales over the past 12 months with sales rising by more than 30 per cent. 

‘We hope by the time we publish the 2022 report reaching net zero emissions goals for the transport network will be firmly in our sights.’

Fernando claims the target of installing an average of 40 to 50 charge points per day is ‘achievable’, though only if policy makers commit to the ‘electrification’ of UK roads and install the necessary infrastructure. 

‘We’re calling on all parties, industry, manufacturers and policy makers, to make significant commitments to support the continued uptake of EVs and increase investment in the infrastructure network,’ he added.

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In response to the report, a spokesman for the Department for Transport said that the Government is investing £1.3billion to accelerate the roll-out of charging infrastructure between now and 2025 and a new EV strategy – complied with the help of councils and industry – will be published later in 2021.

The new report follows the publishing of official figures confirming that September was the best month on record for new battery electric vehicle uptake.

With a market share of 15.2 per cent, 32,721 electric cars joined the road in the month, reflecting the wide range of models now available on the market and a growing consumer appetite.

While EV sales were up 49.4 per cent in September, diesel and petrol registrations slid by a massive 77.3 per cent and 46.6 per cent respectively.

The figure were highlighted by the Tesla Model 3 becoming the best-selling new model in September – the fifth time it has topped sales charts in the UK, but only the second when Covid lockdowns haven’t forced traditional motor dealers to lock their doors.

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Online motor sales site carwow also said that during September a fifth of all orders concluded via its website and app were for battery electric vehicles – ‘significantly higher’ than in any previous month.

And it said that ‘enquiries’ for electric and plug-in hybrid models had risen by an unparalleled 550 per cent year-on-year in the month alone. 

Analysis of Google search data reveals that online searches for electric cars in the UK exploded 1,600 per cent on 24 September, when petrol station fuel shortages became a widespread phenomenon across the country.

Mike Hawes, chief executive at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the UK is already experiencing ‘rocketing uptake of plug-in vehicles’ but warned: ‘To meet our collective decarbonisation ambitions, we need to ensure all drivers can make the switch – not just those with private driveways – requiring a massive investment in public recharging infrastructure.

‘Charge point roll-out must keep pace with the acceleration in plug-in vehicle registrations.’ 

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