UK public EV charging provision increases fivefold in five years

The number of UK public chargers for electric vehicles (EVs) has increased by nearly 500% in the past five years, according to new statistics from the Department of Transport (DfT).

The DfT reported that there were 18,265 public EV chargers available in the UK at the start of July, including 3206 rapid chargers, with 318 more chargers available in the second quarter of 2020 than the first.

The number of rapid chargers has also greatly increased, with 363% more now available compared to 2015. However, provision of EV chargers varies significantly across the UK.

Unsurprisingly, London has the greatest concentration of chargers, with 57 for every 100,000 people. Scotland has 35 chargers using the same measure, but Yorkshire and the Humber, the West Midlands and Northern Ireland are lagging, with just 17, 17 and 16 chargers for every 100,000 people respectively.

Northern Ireland also has the smallest concentration of rapid chargers, with just one per 100,000 people, compared with Scotland’s table-topping 8.9.

The DfT claimed these disparities reflect uneven demand, as well as some local authorities being more proactive than others in bidding for government funding for more chargers.

Despite having one of the highest concentrations of chargers in the UK, the number of chargers in Scotland actually fell by 130 to 1910 during the quarter, due primarily, according to the DfT, to the effects of the pandemic.

In every other region, the number of chargers increased. The largest increase was in London, which gained 82 during the quarter.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Despite the coronavirus, it’s clear that the installation of new electric vehicle chargers is continuing apace.

“With suggestions that we may have passed ‘peak petrol’, the sight of plenty of new chargers in prominent locations like supermarket car parks could be the nudge that some drivers need to opt for a plug-in car next time they change their vehicle, over one powered purely by petrol or diesel.

“While home charging is one of the most important elements of electric vehicle ownership, a comprehensive public charging network is also vital to giving drivers confidence they can keep topped up when away from home. For this reason, it’s vital new chargers are installed right across the UK in rural as well as urban locations.”