Government expected to miss target for installations of rapid EV chargers

The government is “unlikely” to meet its target of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023, research conducted by the RAC has shown.

Less than a quarter of 119 motorway services reviewed by the RAC on Zapmap currently have the target number of chargers to serve the UK’s estimated 760,000 battery electric vehicles.

The RAC’s research found there are around 400 high-powered charging units situated at motorway services capable of charging 682 electric cars at one time. This means there is currently an average of just over three rapid or ultra-rapid chargers at motorway services.

There are currently fewer than 43,000 public charge points in the whole of the UK. A study from 2021 found that the installation of chargers needs to increase by five times the current rate if the plan to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 is to be achieved.

Last year, the government published a plan to accelerate the roll-out of high-powered chargers on the road network through the £950m Rapid Charging Fund so that EV drivers have confidence in the ability to undertake longer journeys.

The plan included a pledge to ensure that every motorway service area has at least six rapid chargers by the end of 2023, with some having more than 12. Rapid charge points can add around 100 miles of range in a charge lasting roughly 35 minutes.

Currently, there are only six services in England which have more than 12 such devices. These are Exeter on the M5, Rugby on the M6, Reading East and West on the M4, Thurrock on the M25 and Wetherby on the A1.

Latest charging statistics from Zapmap show that just a fifth of the UK’s public chargers are rapid or ultra-rapid.

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Our findings show there is much work to be done before the end of the year if the government’s target of having six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area is to be met.

“Installing these types of units is not straightforward as connecting to the electricity grid is expensive and time-consuming, but clearly more needs to be done to make this process simpler than it is currently.

“While we understand the government is taking steps to expedite matters, the importance of ensuring sufficient high-powered charging is readily available up and down our motorway network can’t be emphasised enough.

“As a lack of charging facilities is rapidly becoming one of the most widely quoted reasons for drivers not going electric, all parties involved in making installations happen must work together to overcome this obstacle.”

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2030.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “While 97 per cent of motorways service areas already have charging available, industry has plans to install many hundreds more chargepoints in the coming months.

“We‘ve put more than £2bn into accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, and our £950m Rapid Charging Fund will further boost charging to support long-distance journeys, including at motorway services.”

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