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Demand for EVs is outpacing new charger installations, according to SMMT

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The demand for electric vehicles is outstripping the installation of new chargers, with a 31% drop in the ratio of EVs to public chargers during 2020. 

This is according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which noticed at the end of 2019, there were 11 vehicles for every one EV charger, while that figure had risen to 16 vehicles per charger by the end of 2020. 

The slow pace of EV charger installation is even more stark when considering the explosion in demand for electric vehicles. In fact, the figures have reached the point that only one new charger is being installed for every 52 new electric vehicles being registered. That means the ratio is likely to fall even further. 

Britain’s ratio of plug-in vehicles on the road to standard public chargers has deteriorated to become one of the worst among the top 10 global electric vehicle markets. South Korea boasts a charger for every electric vehicle, while the Netherlands has a spread of 5:1, China 9:1, France 10:1 and Belgium and Japan have a 13:1 spread. In fact, the UK only just manages to beat out Germany, which has just one charger for every 17 electric vehicles. 

Regional disparity

However, the ratio of electric vehicles to public charging points is different depending on where you are in the UK. Those in London will find a charger for every 10 electric vehicles, while in the East of England there is just one public charger for every 49 plug-ins. 

This regional disparity has been highlighted several times, with councils across the UK remaining unambitious in the installation of new chargers. However, the UK Government is still keen to speed up the roll-out. Through its Rapid Charging Fund, the Government is allocating £950 million to rapid and ultra-rapid chargepoints, while also pushing for all new build homes, supermarkets and offices to have chargepoints available.

The SMMT has called this insufficient, however, with the organisation noting that the measures won’t keep up with consumer demand and targets for accelerated market transition, while increased new home charger provision will not provide any incentive for the millions of existing households that do not have a driveway or designated parking.

As a result, SMMT is calling on the Government to take regulatory action to boost public charge point provision, with binding targets for delivery, commensurate with the targets for vehicle manufacturers to deliver products, to ensure installation rates accelerate.  

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, commented, “Appetite for electric vehicles has never been higher, but making Britain a net zero nation means convincing everyone, wherever they live, that an electric car can meet their needs. Those who can’t have their own home charge point need the confidence that they can still charge as conveniently as they can refuel. A deteriorating ratio of public charge points to cars will drain that confidence.

“Recent Government funding for infrastructure was welcome but more private sector investment in public charge points is needed across the country. The UK therefore needs a framework of regulation that makes it easier to fund, build and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Consequently we need commensurate and binding targets for charge point rollout and reliability so that all those without a driveway or designated parking can be confident of finding a convenient charger, and one that works.  

“Decarbonising road transport is essential if we are to address climate change but it needs a framework that compels all sectors to match the investment already being made by automotive to help consumers decarbonise their lives.” 

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