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Lack of charging infrastructure could slow down the UK uptake of electric vehicles

Express Car Leasing

Express Car Leasing

Electric cars may be the future, but in the UK, their uptake is repeatedly hitting stumbling blocks.

LONDON, ENGLAND, May 4, 2022 / -- Electric cars may be the future, but in the UK, their uptake is repeatedly hitting stumbling blocks. The main issue is one of infrastructure, with the number of electric cars being sold now outstripping EV charger points. According to Chris Rouse from Express Car Leasing, one of the UK's leading leasing experts, drivers' faith that the charging infrastructure will be there when they need it is already shaky. "Owner confidence will deteriorate very quickly if this is not rectified," says Rouse.

This opinion is based on conversations with customers and industry insiders, all of whom report that the lack of infrastructure is dampening public enthusiasm for electric vehicles. If this continues, it threatens the government's ambitious targets to phase out new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

Failing to keep pace

The UK electric charging infrastructure is failing to keep pace with EV sales, with less than a decade to go before all new cars sold will be electric. Analysis by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed that by the end of September 2021, a total of 4,109 new standard public charge points were installed. This compares to 212,181 plug-in car registrations, whether fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. In other words, just a single charging device is being installed for every 52 plug-in vehicles being sold. The trade body argues that the UK is already falling behind when it comes to charging infrastructure. Drivers who are purchasing EVs expect the owner experience to improve significantly over coming years with more charging points making it easier to travel with confidence, but the reality on the ground is failing to meet these expectations.

Are electric vehicles just the preserve of the affluent?

Currently, most owners of electric vehicles come from relatively affluent households. They are more likely to live in properties with off-street parking that allows them to charge their vehicles at home. If a greater percentage of the population is to shift to electric vehicles, the SMMT argues that there needs to be improved provision for people without access to designated parking. In England, this accounts for at least a third of homes. With an increasing number of people now living in rental properties, they may also be unwilling or unable to invest in a home charging installation even if they have off-road parking.

Government investment

The government has allocated a £950 million Rapid Charging Fund for the installation of fast charging devices across England, with another £620 million set aside for 'targeted' zero-emission vehicle grants and infrastructure as part of its Net Zero Strategy. New homes in England will also now be required to include an electric charging point.

However, industry insiders say this is still not enough to keep up with consumer demand. The SMMT has called for regulatory measures, alongside binding targets to help boost public charging capacity. These targets should reflect ambitious manufacturer targets to deliver electric vehicles to meet growing consumer demand.

Meeting consumer demand while tackling climate change

Consumers are motivated to switch to electric vehicles due to their reduced running costs and a growing concern about climate change. While the government has set ambitious targets to decarbonise UK transport and meet Net-Zero goals over the coming decades, it has failed to step up to the mark when it comes to providing the required infrastructure. While the automotive industry has made big steps towards meeting targets for the provision of electric vehicles, without sufficient infrastructure in place, consumer demand is likely to falter.

Consumers and the industry are serious about decarbonising car transport, but there are doubts about whether or not the government are really facing up to the scale of the task.

Chris Rouse
Express Car Leasing
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