The number of public charge points per electric vehicle (EV) has fallen to its lowest level yet, as infrastructure fails to keep pace with increasing demand.
Analysis by energy consulting group Cornwall Insight shows that, as of 2020, there are just 0.28 public chargers per EV, approximately one device for every four vehicles. By contrast, there were almost nine public chargers per EV at the start of 2018, revealing a stark drop.
Cornwall Insight analyst Katie Hickford said: “Covid-19 restrictions have undoubtedly loomed large over the installation of charge points and have unsurprisingly suppressed the number of installations we have seen over the course of the year. In the same period, the number of EVs on the road has grown, with year-to-date registrations up 169% compared to 2019.”
Since 2010, the number of EVs on UK roads has grown significantly. The RAC estimates a total of 185,137 new pure-electric vehicles and 223,384 plug-in hybrid cars have been registered in the past 10 years. Public EV charging provision has increased, too, expanding fivefold in the past five years, but this has not matched the increase in EV uptake.
According to the Department for Transport (DfT), there are now almost 20,000 public EV chargers in the UK, including 3206 rapid chargers. In June this year, Tesla installed its 500th supercharger device on British shores.
But despite this, and efforts to promote EV infrastructure development - such as Alexander Sims’ breaking the record for the shortest charging time while crossing the UK this autumn - the average number of public chargers per EV has fallen steadily over the past few years.
Hickford added: “Despite the valid reasons for the slowdown in the number of charge point installations, the lack of charging infrastructure at the very time EV sales are starting to gather pace could potentially make it difficult to galvanise public opinion that the switch to EVs will be an easy transition.”
There are signs that EV infrastructure is improving, though. In January, the government announced an extra £5 million for installing chargers, doubling its funding. The confirmation of its plans to ban sales of purely combustion-engined new cars by 2030, meanwhile, should increase demand for EVs yet further, making charger provision even more important.