Charge point installation struggles to keep up with EV adoption

Public charge point rollout continues to lag behind EV uptake, with one standard public charger for every 36 plug-in cars on the road, down from 31 in 2021, according to new annual Motorparc data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The number of cars in use on UK roads in 2022 rising by 124,393 units to a total of 35,148,045. Despite this overall increase in vehicles on the road, average car and van CO2 emissions have fallen by 1.6 per cent, driven by the influx of new lower- and zero-emission models. One in 32 cars driving in Britain now comes with a plug, amounting to 1,089,241 vehicles – a rise of more than half over the last year.

However, access to public charging infrastructure for electric cars is struggling to keep up with demand. The need for investment is even more intense for other road transport sectors, as existing chargepoints may not be suitably located or sized to serve van operators, and there are no dedicated HGV charging points on the UK’s strategic road network at all.

“The slowing installation rate of public charging points for EVs, compared to the rapidly growing number of electric cars on the road, is a worrying trend with far-reaching implications,” David Hall, VP of power systems at Schneider Electric UK & Ireland, commented. “In order to drive EVs forward as a viable path to a low carbon future, it is vital we have the infrastructure in place to keep up with current demand and to incentivise consumers who have not yet made the switch to do so. With this is the need to install EV chargers in vast quantities, evenly throughout the UK.

“As we push the pedal on a low carbon future, private firms, councils and the Government must become the driving force behind this transition to renewables, with the primary focus on innovation and infrastructure upgrades. EV uptake is set to increase electricity consumption by 40 per cent, so we must also ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to manage this usage spike without any disruption on our electrical grids. 

“Harnessing a smarter grid will help create network efficiencies and avoid pressures caused by the increase in electricity in a cost-effective and resilient way,” Hall continued. “With the ability to operate independently from larger grids to store and reserve energy, smart grids have the potential to enable seamless EV charging, with user contingencies, to develop a safe, efficient EV charging infrastructure in the UK.”

According to SMMT, deployment of infrastructure appropriate for commercial vehicles could energise uptake of the latest electric vehicles, accelerate fleet renewal to take older units off the road, and help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

“After two tough years, Britain is on the road to recovery with the first growth in car ownership since the pandemic – while vans and trucks also continue to deliver for business and society in ever greater numbers. Better still, we are driving Britain towards a net zero future with more than a million zero emission vehicles now on the road and cutting carbon,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “With exciting new technologies and models fuelling our appetite to get back behind the wheel, now is the time to commit to greater investment in infrastructure and incentives, to speed up a switch to carbon-free mobility that is accessible to all.”

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