Government promises tenfold increase in electric car chargers by end of 2030

Plan to expand UK public charging network to 300,000 units also includes new minimum standards for usability and reliability...

Instavolt chargers

The Government has unveiled plans to grow the number of public electric car chargers in the UK to 300,000 units by the end of 2030 – the year of the planned ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

The commitment comes as part of the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, which pledges a total of £1.6bn to improve the network. The pledge means the UK could eventually have five times more charging points than it currently has fuel pumps on petrol station forecourts.

The number of UK public charging points currently sits at just under 30,000, according to electric vehicle (EV) charging app Zap Map.

LT Audi E-tron Sportback at Tesco Pod Point charger

Some £500 million from the fund will be put towards funding “high-quality, competitively priced” public charging points across the whole country, and £450m of that will be put towards on-street charging.

The plans include legal requirements for operators to provide real-time data, such as information on pricing, via apps. That will make it much easier for drivers to find the nearest and cheapest chargers, and also show which charging points are in use. 

The obligations will also include measures to enable drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) to pay for charging using contactless cards. Currently, many public chargers offer different payment methods depending on the operator. 

The plans state that a 99% reliability rate will be mandatory at rapid charging points, although it is not clear how that would be enforced. A recent What Car? investigation found that the UK’s most reliable network had a rating of 89.8%, and the worst 43.5%. 

EV public charger

Each network was rated by EV owners using certain criteria, including whether you have to sign up to use a charging point, or if you can simply charge up and pay. The results of our investigation show that significant improvement is needed to meet the new target.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the plans would help in “ensuring the country is EV-fit for future generations by the end of this decade, revolutionising our charging network and putting the consumer first".

A What Car? survey in 2021 found that 31% of prospective EV buyers said they were worried about range, and 18% were concerned about charging. This was up from both 25% and 15% respectively compared with a survey in 2019.

Vauxhall Managing Director Paul Wilcox​ said the measures were “a missed opportunity to provide certainty to customers by mandating binding targets on the roll-out of the charging infrastructure in the UK". He added: “It is essential that infrastructure keeps pace with market demand, or in fact leads demand, to remove any customer fears of ‘charging anxiety’ and accelerates the electrification of Britain’s roads as quickly as possible.”

Gridserve forecourt COTY 2022 header

The RAC said the plans needed to go further. Head of Policy Nicholas Lyes said: “We are concerned that this is not going to be sufficient, with drivers looking to switch to an electric vehicle en masse ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. Many current and would-be EV drivers worry that charging units will be out of order when they arrive to charge their vehicles, so it is vitally important this is addressed.”

The investment comes as sales of new electric cars continue to grow, with a total of 190,727 purely electric cars sold in 2021 – an increase of 76.3% compared with 2020.

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