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  • Mark Salisbury

UK will fail to deliver EV infrastructure needed by 2030

Updated: May 11, 2023

In the face of rapidly growing competition for electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints and inadequate support from both central and local government, the report casts doubt on whether the current 2030 target is achievable which threatens to put the brakes on the UK’s zero emission transition.

The new report released today by leading car financier Novuna Vehicle Solutions reveals that over three quarters (76%) of EV drivers believe the UK’s current charging infrastructure is unfit for purpose.

Faced with a three-fold increase in the number EVs to public chargepoints, up from a ratio of 5:1 to 15:1 in just three years, almost a third (31%) of all EV drivers say they frequently have to queue for a charger.

The Electric Vehicle Ecosystem (EVE) Report, which includes insights from over 2,000 motorist interviews, together with in-depth analysis of data from government, proprietary, and respected third-party sources such as Zap-Map, lays bare how the UK’s EV charging infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the number of EVs hitting the roads.

The report uncovers significant regional disparities in the charging infrastructure. The region with the worst, EV to charger ratio is the South-West, with 68,000 EVs relying on just 2,091 public charge points (32:1), followed by the North West (28:1). In contrast, EV drivers in London benefit from the most chargers per vehicle (5:1).

Despite the growing divide between supply and demand of charging infrastructure, three in five (59%) current petrol or diesel drivers say their next car is likely to be an EV, putting further strain on the currently available public charging network.

The appetite to drive an EV is projected to increase the gulf between demand and supply further even if the current network of over 32,0000 chargepoints increases tenfold to meet the current Government target by the start of the next decade.

Novuna’s report predicts that more than half of UK adults will regularly drive an EV by 2030, the date by which new petrol and diesel vehicle sales will be phased out, equating to 54 EVs vying for every public device by 2030 – even if the 300,000 public chargepoint milestone is reached.

Consequently, it is not surprising that the clamour for off-street parking amongst EV drivers means that two thirds (68%) say they would never buy or live in a house without the space to install their own chargepoint.

Jonny Berry, Head of Decarbonisation, Novuna Vehicle Solutions said: “Demand for EVs has accelerated at a relentless pace, yet we’re rapidly facing the prospect of failing to realise the level of adequate public charging infrastructure to support mass adoption of EVs by the start of the next decade.

“The Government vows to have 300,000 public chargers installed by 2030, but with just 32,000 devices in the ground today, our research puts into question whether this target is achievable. It has taken ten years to reach this milestone – we must now build the same number in a single year – and then repeat that feat every year until the end of the decade.

However, even if we manage to hit this magic tenfold number, we expect to see the ratio of cars to chargers will increase from 15:1 to 54:1, and that’s going to mean a lot more competition for charger provision; competition which is already being felt today in many parts of the country, unless the new government reignites investment in this area.”

For the majority of motorists, the onus is on the public sector to accelerate the rollout of charge points. Four in five EV drivers (81%) want the Government to do more to boost the number of chargers in the UK, and virtually the same proportion (79%) want their local authority to do more. Petrol and diesel drivers agree (71% and 68% respectively), wanting to see better provision before they make the switch.

Jonny Berry continued: "Our findings highlight how the charging network is not only a cause of frustration for EV drivers, but also the millions of petrol and diesel drivers looking to transition to electric sooner rather than later. Having to queue for a charge is a concern raised all too often by motorists, illustrating just how pressing it is for more charge points to be installed as a matter of urgency. Without radically transforming existing infrastructure addressing charging anxiety, the road map to net zero will undoubtedly extend beyond 2030.”

Despite these shortcomings, the vast majority of EV owners say they enjoy driving their vehicles and can't imagine ever driving a traditional car again. Three quarters (78%) of EV drivers say their next vehicle will be an EV of some kind with younger generations most eager to make the switch.

Four in five (79%) 18-34 year olds aspire to drive an EV as their next vehicle compared to two thirds (64%) of 35-54 year olds. However, enthusiasm is more muted with greater resistance to change amongst older drivers; only a third (34%) of over 55s plan to go electric.

Source: Fleetpoint

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