North-south divide in electric car charging points revealed

Richard Aucock
·2-min read
Young woman using a BP Chargemaster charging post
Young woman using a BP Chargemaster charging post

London and south-east England benefited from almost half the new electric car charging points installed in the UK during the past year.

This is despite these regions only accounting for 27 percent of the population.

In contrast, every other UK region received fewer new charging points in relation to their population.

The Guardian analysis of Zap Map data shows there are 63 public chargers per 100,000 people in London: more than double the average across the rest of the UK.

Northern Ireland only has 16.8 chargers per 100,000 people.

Narrowing the data to regions further underlines the disparities, with 46 local authorities boasting fewer than 10 electric car chargers per 100,000 people.

In Selby, North Yorkshire, there are just 3.3 chargers per 100,000 people.

In contrast, Westminster boasts 212.8 chargers per 100,000 people, while Hammersmith and Fulham has 202 chargers per 100,000 people.

‘Provide the incentive’

Matt Western MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Electric Vehicles, says the government must address the regional disparities.

“What we need is government incentives to put these charge points in place – to provide the incentive for consumers to follow.”

Ben Nelmes is head of policy at thinktank New AutoMotive. “The transition to electric cars has the potential to contribute to the government’s levelling-up agenda, because electric cars are much cheaper to run.

“Public funding for charge points should be spent where it is most needed and will provide most benefit to motorists, but cash-strapped local councils often struggle to get the data they need to bid for chargepoint funding from the Department for Transport.”

This week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed extensions to grant schemes targeting on-street electric car charging as part of the 2020 Spending Review.

New funding has been made available to local authorities, and £950 million will support rapid charging on the strategic and A-road networks.

The long-awaited green number plate scheme for electric cars also goes live on 8 December 2020.

EV breakdowns double

The RAC reports a doubling in the number of electric car drivers who have called out the breakdown organisation due to running out of battery charge.

This is because of motorists either running out of charge before reaching a charge point, or because the charge point has been broken.

There are currently around 20,000 public charge points in the UK.

Automotive industry trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has estimated the UK needs more than 1.9 million public chargers by 2030 to make the transition to new electric cars from 2030.

This equals more than 500 new chargers opening each day – at a cost of £16.7 billion.

“The industry invested £54bn in electrification across Europe last year,” said chief executive Mike Hawes.

“We need others to step up.”

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