Currently reading: UK government misses motorway EV charging target
Fewer than four in 10 motorway service stations host six or more ultra-rapid electric car charge points

The UK government has missed its goal to have six or more ultra-rapid (150kW-350kW) electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service station in England by the end of 2023.

New analysis published by the RAC revealed that only 46 of the nation’s 119 service stations meet the criteria set out by the Department for Transport in May 2020.

It confirms Autocar’s December 2023 report that the target was set to be missed, as many service stations were limited to a sub-150kW charging provision.

Some sites – including Barton Park, Leicester Forest and Tebay South – still lack any form of EV charging provision.

According to figures from charger mapping service Zap-Map, there were 53,029 EV charge points in the UK at the end of November 2023. Of these, just 4505 were capable of delivering ultra-rapid charge rates.

Charge-point operators have previously highlighted the slow pace of electrical grid connections as a significant barrier to installing new chargers. Gridserve CEO Toddington Harper told Autocar in April 2023: “Almost every issue of speed of implementation is down to the speed of grid connections.”

Harper added that operators “can often be delayed by months or more waiting for a connection”.

Vauxhall Corsa-E charging at Gridserve

The government announced at November’s COP28 climate conference that it had established a £70 million pilot fund intended to improve grid connections at several sites.

It said the money, taken from the £950 million Rapid Charging Fund, would be used to prepare five to 10 locations for 100kW-plus charge points.

The government’s ambition with the new funding is to ‘future-proof’ each service station’s electrical capacity against the expected increase in demand for motorway chargers through to 2035. That year, sales of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars, including hybrids, will be banned.

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It also acknowledged that the current state of the nation’s charging infrastructure is a barrier to electric car adoption. It said the fund will give “consumers more confidence to choose EVs”.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “This £70m pilot scheme is the starting point and sends a message to consumers and industry that we are investing wisely and rapidly to grow the future of transport in the UK.”

The improvement process at these five to 10 initial sites – the precise number being dependent on the applications received by National Highways – will be used to gather evidence for an eventual, larger fund.

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin Autocar
Title: Editorial Assistant, Autocar

As a reporter, Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry. He joined Autocar in July 2022 after a nine-month stint as an apprentice with sister publication, What Car?. He's previously contributed to The Intercooler, and placed second in Hagerty’s 2019 Young Writer competition with a MG Metro 6R4 feature

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like a Caterham Seven or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

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Peter Cavellini 2 January 2024

Here we go again!, if a Government target isn't met sack the Government mentality, nobody wondered why?, who does the Government employ to install all the required infrastructure?, the Government doesn't pay their wages so if these contractors can't meet the deadline for whatever reason,or any other contractor involved has problems it's the Government's fault!, we all like things to happen as quoted be on time or better, the trouble is we're a nation of impatient cynical drivers, a nation of entitled people.

HiPo 289 6 December 2023

I used an excellent set of Shell (Tritium) rapid chargers twice recently on the A1 at Markham Moor near Doncaster.  They were all working and were extremely fast. There was one other person using them the first time and none the second time.   Yes we need more of these, but the problems quoted in the media are overstated.

xxxx 2 January 2024

Spot on, and nice to hear from people with experience. From zero to 53k public chargers in around 10 years isn't a diaster, double it in another 5 years please.

superstevie 6 December 2023

Carlisle isn't on the M1 though, perhaps that why they haven't had chargers install. Government can't find it!