Government misses motorway EV charger target

Four motorway service areas have no public charging points

Government misses motorway EV charger target
Photo: Bigstock

The government has missed its target of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric car chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023.

This is according to new research by the RAC.

Analysis shows that just 46 (39 percent) of the 119 motorway services reviewed by the RAC using Zapmap have the target number of chargers above 50kW. That’s up from 27 (23 percent) at the end of April.

Rapid and ultra-rapid chargers are necessary for drivers to complete longer journeys, and are required as the government encourages the uptake of electric vehicles ahead of the 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

More positive is the fact that there are now more than 400 ultra-rapid chargers at motorways services, which means more than half (55 percent) can offer the fastest charging speeds. Only 18 services have no rapid charging above 50kW, but four – Leicester Forest (both sides), Tebay South and Barton Park – have no public charging points.

Another positive sign is that there are now 14 services in England with more than 12 rapid or ultra-rapid chargers, including the MOTO site on the M5 at Exeter, which has 24 charging points. The current average across all services in England is five (4.9) devices, up from 3.4 in April 2023.

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams said: “It’s clear from our research that the Government has fallen well short of its target of having six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area in England.

“While that’s the case, some very good progress has been made since the end of April when we last carried out our survey, with four-in-10 services (39 percent) now having met or exceeded the target number of chargers, compared to just under a quarter (23 percent) eight months ago.

“There is undoubtedly an eagerness among charge point companies and motorway service operators to install these types of units but unfortunately, it’s often the high-power cabling to the grid that’s the major barrier which is out of their hands.

“More clearly needs to be done to make this process simpler than it is currently. Hopefully once the Government’s Rapid Charging Fund kicks fully into action some of these hurdles will be overcome.

“We continue to believe that the wide availability of ultra-rapid charging is crucial in giving both current and future EV drivers confidence to know they can easily make journeys beyond the range of their vehicles in a time-efficient way.”

Lack of charging facilities is a concern for motorists

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), added: “It is disappointing to see that the government has missed a deadline it set to have at least six rapid or ultra-rapid chargers at every motorway service station in England by the end of 2023.

“With the ZEV mandate coming into effect from this month, the government needs to do more to increase confidence in consumers who are looking to switch to electric during this transitionary period.

“In our recent Consumer Attitude Survey, 57 percent of the respondents who stated they were not interested in purchasing an electric vehicle attributed this to a lack of charging facilities in the UK.

“Whilst the NFDA has welcomed recent announcements by the Government including a £70 million pilot scheme to boost the number of ultra-rapid chargepoints at motorway services, there is still more that needs to be done.

“As we enter the new year, the UK government needs to ensure that it meets targets to meet increasing consumer demand for electric vehicles.

“2024 looks set to be a busy year with the Spring Budget already being announced for 6 March and with an election date yet to be set. NFDA will monitor key developments throughout the year on behalf of its members.”

Number of charging points ‘surging’

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) told the BBC: “The number of public charge points is surging across the country and around 96 percent of motorway services now offer charging facilities for drivers.

”As well as our £70m pilot to help roll out ultra-rapid charge points on motorways, we are driving forward the biggest reforms to our electricity grid since the 1950s – halving the time it takes to build networks and speeding up connections.”

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