Currently reading: Majority of UK councils have no kerbside EV chargers
Investigation also finds nearly half of councils have no plans to install residential on-street chargers in 2023

More than two-thirds of UK councils have yet to install any kerbside EV chargers, with just over six years to go until the UK government’s ban on the sale of new pure-combustion cars comes into effect. 

An investigation conducted by Vauxhall as part of its new 'Electric Streets of Britain' campaign found that 69% of councils do not have an on-street charge point and that 71.6% lack a published strategy for on-street residential charging.

Of the councils that responded to the investigation, 45% stated they had no plans to install residential on-street chargers this year.

Data published by Zapmap and the Department for Transport (DfT) on 26 July 2023 revealed that, as of 1 July, just 34% of the UK’s 44,020 public charge points were designated as on-street chargers.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that 80% of electric car charging is done from home, and a 2022 survey by Zapmap found 84% of existing EV drivers have a home charger. However, roughly 40% of UK households do not have a driveway or access to dedicated off-street parking where they could install a private charge point, forcing them to rely on public charge points. This rises to 60% of households in urban areas.

Vauxhall Astra Electric charging at kerbside

From 2024, 22% of all new cars sold in the UK must be zero-emission vehicles, which will place additional pressure on the public charging infrastructure. This proportion of sales is mandated to rise annually, reaching 80% in 2030 and 100% in 2035. For vans, the requirements will start at 10% in 2024 and hit 70% in 2030.

Sales of new electrically unassisted petrol and diesel cars will be banned in 2030, while sales of new hybrids with a "significant zero-emission capability" will be outlawed five years later, adding further demand on the charging infrastructure.

The Vauxhall investigation stated that 14,188 new chargers are planned for installation (across 289 councils) by the end of this year. According to Zapmap, there were 45,737 public chargers in the UK as of the end of July, so if the forecast is met, the UK will have around 60,000 public chargers at the end of this year, compared with the 37,055 devices that were installed as of 1 January 2023.

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) stated in 2021 that the UK would need at least 2.3 million charge points by 2030, in order to sustain the projected demand for EVs.

Mk1 Nissan Leaf charging at kerbside

The SMMT published a position paper last year, noting that registrations of plug-in hybrids and battery-electric cars had grown by 280.3% between 2019 and 2021. Meanwhile, the number of charge points had increased by only 69.8%. This imbalance is currently less relevant, as many early adopters of plug-in cars have off-street parking and a private charge point to support their use, but it is expected to become an increasing challenge over the coming years.

Ian Johnston, chair of charge point operator industry body ChargeUK and CEO of Osprey, told Autocar in April that rapid-charger installations were up 180% quarter on quarter. Meanwhile, slow chargers – such as kerbside lamp-post points – were up 250%.

Read more: UK electric vehicle charging firms unite as infrastructure expands

A ChargeUK spokesperson told Autocar that its members had committed £6 billion in investment leading up to 2030 and that chargers were currently being installed at record rates. Local authorities have a “vital role” to play in ensuring access to chargers, the spokesperson said.

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They added: “Charge point operators are already working closely with local authorities to deploy chargers where they are needed and take full advantage of the government’s newly opened £450 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure fund.

“The government must stand firm to its commitments to phasing out new petrol and diesel cars and the critical part of the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate must start in 2024 as promised so we can continue this rapid investment into charging infrastructure.”

Tesla Model 3 and Mk1 Nissan Leaf charging at Gridserve

Responding to the Vauxhall report, a DfT spokesperson told Autocar: “The number of public charge points rose by 38% over the last year – a rate that puts us well on the way to [government's target of] 300,000 by 2030 – and we continue to work with industry and local authorities to accelerate this.”

They added that the government expects the majority of public charge points to be delivered by the market by private firms and that it has now launched the £381 million local electric vehicle infrastructure (LEVI) fund for on-street charging, following a pilot scheme.

Industry executives have warned of road blocks in the rush to install more chargers, highlighting the slow pace of grid connections.

Toddington Harper, CEO of Gridserve and ChargeUK member, said in April: “Almost every issue of speed of implementation is down to the speed of grid connections. I’m not kicking the grid here. It was designed for a completely different purpose and adapting it to what we need, while keeping the lights on, is a huge task. But we can often be delayed by months or more waiting for a connection. The process you have to go through is hard at best and infuriating at worst.”

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Vauxhall managing director James Taylor said: “Accessibility to charge points near your home is critical to the transition to electric vehicle ownership in the UK.

“We want to galvanise the needs and interests of everyone, from the public, to the councils and the charging operators to make sure that anyone without a driveway is part of that journey.”

Vauxhall Vivaro Electric charging

In turn, the brand has launched the 'Electric Streets of Britain' campaign mentioned above, encouraging motorists to register their charging needs and help councils understand where demand lies for on-street charging.

Created in collaboration with and Connected Kerb and Surecharge, the campaign will also provide an ‘enablement fund’. Autocar understands the aim is for this to become a multi-year programme, with upwards of £1 million of investment in the first year.

“We want to help educate and inform the decision-makers and enable the installation of more chargers, more quickly,” said Taylor.

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 feature on the MG Metro 6R4

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like an Alpine A110 or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

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Add a comment…
Marc 16 August 2023
Dear Vauxhall (aka clowns), please stick to building cars. Perhaps trying not to peddle Corsa's for nearly 40k may help in the electric car issue.
Peter Cavellini 15 August 2023

How much do public chargers cost?,what's involved in the installation?, I guess it's not that straightforward and there'd never be enough and some will be out of service not to mention vandalism ( a popular hobby for the nutters) and they won't arrive overnight.

Bainthrewo 15 August 2023

Wrong headline - It's not the Councils job to have or install kerbside charging points any more than it's their role to have or install petrol and diesel pumps!  It's for commercial operators who will get around to it only when the business case stacks up.

Adrian Midgley 15 August 2023

Councils have a definite role in deciding where, and whether, large collections of flammable liquids are stored and sold from.

They also oversee part of the business case, and are part of our collective prediction and making plans and some preparations for the near future, rather than being surprised by everything that comes along.

I live in a city in a county where both councils have a strategy, and where there are parking arrangements for electric car charging in some places.  One group of those places are parking structures, which are owned by the Council, and were built by businesses whose business case was that the Council asked them to do it.




Andrew1 15 August 2023
What a ridiculous and ignorant comment. As if a company can simply start blinding a petrol station whenever, wherever it wants, without approval from authorities.