Aug 30, 2023
Hundreds more rapid charging points installed in UK to help drivers go electric
Fast charging stations that allow for longer journeys are being added in regions beyond London Charging companies are plugging the gaps in the UK’s high-speed charger network, with hundreds added this
Fast charging stations that allow for longer journeys are being added in regions beyond London
Charging companies are plugging the gaps in the UK’s high-speed charger network, with hundreds added this year outside London in a shift that will help end the “range anxiety” that holds back some would-be electric car buyers.
The capital and the south-east still have far more chargers of all speeds – ranging from slow to rapid and ultra-rapid – than the rest of the country. But the presence of high-speed chargers, generally used for quick recharging on longer journeys, is increasing in other regions as electric car sales surge.
The West Midlands, east Midlands, the south-west of England and Wales all installed more rapid or ultra-rapid chargers than London during the past year, and their networks have grown more rapidly than the south-east of England, according to data from ZapMap, which maps UK public charging points.
Nine out of 12 regions of the UK installed more than 100 rapid chargers during the past year, ZapMap’s data showed.
Long journeys are relatively rare occurrences for most households, but perceived difficulties in finding chargers for the occasional long drive – such as the 14m trips expected over the August bank holiday weekend – have been one factor putting people off electric cars.
Most of the UK’s 46,000 public chargers are described as either “slow”, with a trickle of energy used for charging a car on the street overnight, or “fast”, capable of charging an average car in two to four hours. But “rapid” and “ultra-rapid” chargers are important for the UK’s transition away from petrol and diesel engines to cleaner electric cars because they allow drivers to recharge on longer journeys.
Rapid chargers are capable of delivering between 25 and 100 kilowatts of power to electric cars – with a 50kW connection able to give about an 80% charge to the average car in less than an hour. Ultra-rapid connections of more than 100kW (and up to 350kW for the newest cars) can achieve even faster times, and therefore charge more vehicles during the same time period at motorway service stations, albeit at a higher cost for customers.
Melanie Shufflebotham, chief operating officer at ZapMap, said: “In 2023 the pace of installation of the critical ultra-rapid charging network has really picked up, with 42% more chargers versus the beginning of the year. Essential for supporting electric vehicle drivers on longer journeys, it is encouraging to see that they are being installed across the country, particularly in erstwhile poorly served areas of Wales, Northern Ireland and the north east.”
Quentin Willson, a former motoring presenter who founded the campaign group FairCharge, said range anxiety was not as big a problem as before, because of improving charger numbers.
“People are managing to cope as long as they plan,” he said. Range anxiety is “certainly not the force it was”, he added, given that most new electric cars have between 200 and 250 miles of range, more than enough for most daily journeys.
The overall pace of charger installations has also picked up, with total charger numbers up by 23% in the first seven months of the year. During the first half of 2022 an average of 891 charging devices were installed each month, but that nearly doubled to 1,622 a month in the first six months of 2023, ZapMap found.
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However, Willson said there were “blockages in the system” preventing a faster rollout of chargers, including electricity grid connections, which are lagging far behind demand.
London still far outstrips the rest of the country in terms of the total number of public chargers. That is partly because a higher proportion of households in London do not have private parking, but it also reflects the fact that the more affluent London market is more attractive to charge point operators.
Nevertheless, Willson warned against seeing London as one bloc, because of the variations between local authorities. Some parts of Greater London and the south-east of England have poor access to public chargers, he said.Privacy Notice: