Government fails to hit EV charger target

Government fails to hit EV charger target

According to new research conducted by the RAC, the Government has not hit its target of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023.

Just 46 (39%) out of 119 motorway services reviewed by the RAC on Zapmap now have a target number of chargers above 50kW to serve the UK’s growing fleet of battery-electric vehicles, which should have exceeded the one million milestone by the end of 2023.

The number of rapid chargers has grown from just 27 (23%) at the end of April. Since the end of spring, a further 178 high-powered chargers have been installed at motorway services. Positively, there are now more than 400 ultra-rapid chargers in service and 55% of drivers are now offered the fastest possible charging speeds.

Only 18 service areas have no rapid charging above 50kW but, worryingly, four have no charging facilities: Leicester Forest on both sides of the M1, Tebay South on the M6, and Barton Park on the A1(M). There are now 693 Combined Charging System (CCS) connectors – the most common charging connector – at the 101 services offering high-powered charging, an increase of 225, or 48%.

For the CHAdeMO connectors predominantly used by Nissan and Renault electric cars, there are now almost 282, up 32% compared to the end of April.

70% of all high-power motorway charging is now ultra-rapid, significantly reducing the time drivers spend ‘filling up’. Encouragingly, there are 14 services in England with more than 12 such devices – up from only six in the spring.

The Moto-run services at Exeter on the M5 have the most high-powered chargers of all motorway services, with 24 devices. Looking at all high-powered motorway chargers collectively, there are currently an average of five (4.9) devices at all 119 service areas in England – up from 3.4 at the end of April.

The Government’s target of having at least six rapid chargers above 50kW by the end of 2023, with some having more than 12, is set out in ‘Taking charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy’ published on 25 March 2022. 

It intended to accelerate the roll-out of high-powered chargers on the strategic road network through the £950m Rapid Charging Fund so that EV drivers have confidence in the ability to undertake longer journeys. However, it wasn’t until early December 2023 that the Government announced it would be providing £70m in grants for a pilot scheme involving upgrades at 10 motorway service stations.

As of November 2023, charging statistics from Zapmap show the UK has 53,029 charging devices a fifth (19% or 9,992) are rapid or ultra-rapid. Looking at this figure against the RAC’s research reveals that only 6% (581) of all these high-powered chargers are at motorway services.

The Government says it expects there will be around 300,000 public chargers of all speeds as a minimum by 2030 and more than 6,000 high-powered chargers along strategic roads by 2035.

Forecasts in the Competition and Markets Authority’s ‘Building a comprehensive and competitive electric vehicle charging sector that works for all drivers’ suggest that at least 280,000-480,000 public charge points will be needed by 2030.

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