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EV take-up could be held back by slow roll-out of rapid and ultra-rapid chargers, warns RAC

  • RAC says more high-speed chargers are urgently needed to help drivers switch to electric vehicles
  • Problem highlighted of motorists who rely on public network because they can’t charge at home
  • Analysis also suggests registrations are outpacing the installation of new public charge points

Time 7:00 am, February 18, 2022

Drivers unable to charge an electric car at home could be put off switching to zero-emission cars, thanks to the sluggish roll-out of truly rapid public charge points.

That’s the warning from the RAC, which today (Feb 18) released data analysis that showed less than a fifth (17 per cent) of new installations in 2021 were rapid or ultra-rapid devices.

The number of public EV chargers rose by 7,600 – 37 per cent – in 2021, and by another 604 in January 2022, taking the UK’s total to 28,979.

However, the motoring organisation said the picture wasn’t as bright when the speed of the chargers being installed was considered.

At the start of February 2022, 5,279 – or 18 per cent – of all public chargers were rapid or ultra-rapid devices.

That, said the RAC, meant that EV drivers were mostly having to rely on the 23,700 non-rapid chargers while away from home.

In addition, the number of faster chargers as a proportion of all the chargers installed actually went DOWN by one per cent year on year.

Although 6,324 non-rapid chargers were installed last year, which was nearly double the number than in 2020, just 1,276 new rapid or ultra-rapid chargers were put in over the same period – only 21 per cent more than were installed in 2020.

Growth in public electric car charge points, by charger speed, via RAC

Source: RAC

The RAC said that as well as helping motorists for whom home charging isn’t possible make the switch to electric, having enough rapid and ultra-rapid chargers was also important in making it easier for EV drivers to make longer trips.

Meanwhile, separate RAC analysis suggests that registrations are outpacing the installation of new public charge points.

It said that as of July 2021 there were 77 battery-electric vehicles for every one rapid and ultra-rapid charger – up from 42 vehicles per charger two years earlier, based on latest government figures.

RAC director of electric vehicles Sarah Winward-Kotecha said: ‘Without question, it’s encouraging to see that last year, more new public chargers for electric cars were installed than ever before as drivers increasingly consider switching out of petrol or diesel-powered models.

‘Between October and December alone nearly 2,500 were put in, which is the highest-ever number fitted in any three-month period.

‘Having enough public chargers is vital to encouraging the mass take-up of electric cars, but that’s only one part of the jigsaw – the speed of these chargers is also extremely important.

‘The greater the number of truly rapid chargers, the easier charging becomes on longer trips and the more often charging spaces can be turned over and used by other drivers.’

She added: ‘These latest figures show we still have a long way to go.

‘The number of public chargers isn’t keeping pace with the volume of new electric cars coming on to the road, and only a minority of devices being installed are rapid or ultra-rapid.

‘This creates a real problem for motorists who rely on the public network because they can’t charge at home.

‘What we don’t want to see are queues for charge points becoming a common sight as the electric revolution gathers pace.

‘Of course, slower chargers have a place as part of the country’s developing EV infrastructure, but getting many more drivers to opt for an electric car might depend on there being a marked step up in terms of the number of faster chargers going in.

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‘Making sure all public chargers are easy to use, reliable and affordable is also vital, which is why we’ve joined the FairCharge campaign to fight for the VAT rate on public charging to be reduced from 20 per cent to match the five per cent levied on domestic electricity.’

Automotive journalist and electric car ambassador Quentin Willson, who is spearheading the RAC-backed FairCharge campaign, said: ‘The government must make sure the benefits of the EV revolution are for everyone and not just the rich.

‘While the increase in the number of chargers being rolled out is good, we need a nationwide network of rapid and ultra-rapid chargers to reduce charging times.’

John Bowman's avatar

John has been with Car Dealer since 2013 after spending 25 years in the newspaper industry as a reporter then a sub-editor/assistant chief sub-editor on regional and national titles. John is chief sub-editor in the editorial department, working on Car Dealer, as well as handling social media.

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