UK infrastructure strategy plans to boost the number of EV chargers tenfold

UK to have 300,000 electric vehicle chargers by end of decade, government strategy shows

The UK government plans to boost the number of electric vehicle (EV) chargers tenfold, which would take the total number of charge points to 300,000 by the end of the decade, a new infastructure strategy published by the Department for Transport (DFT) on Friday showed.

An expanded charging network would be equivalent to almost five times the number of fuel pumps on UK roads today and would focus on drivers without access to off-street parking, and also prioritise fast charging for longer journeys.

Currently the UK has 29,500 public EV chargepoints, 5,400 of which are rapid.

The government confirmed that £500 million will be invested to bring “high quality, competitively priced” public chargepoints to communities across the UK.

This figure includes a £450 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) fund, which will boost projects such as EV hubs and innovative on-street charging.

The government noted that today’s strategy is an addition to the previously-announced £950 million Rapid Charging Fund that plans to support the rollout of at least 6,000 high powered super-fast chargepoints across UK motorways by 2035.

The timeline for the boosted charging network set out in the long-awaited strategy on March 25 is some five years ahead of the government’s previously announced target date for the ban of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales in 2035.

“Backed by £1.6 billion, under the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, charging will become easier and cheaper than refuelling a petrol or diesel car, while new legal requirements on operators will see drivers of EVs able to pay by contactless, compare charging prices and find nearby chargepoints via apps,” the DFT said.

Also today, the government launched a pilot scheme for the LEVI fund, which will allow local authorities to bid for a share of £10 million in funding.

This will allow selected areas to work with industry and “boost public charging opportunities”, the DFT said.

Earlier this week, addressing an industry event in Westminster, parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Trudy Harrison had indicated that home-charging capabilities would be a key part of the strategy.

The long-awaited government EV infrastructure strategy has been delayed multiple times, and in October ahead of the Glasgow COP26 climate talks, the UK government confirmed it would publish the plan later on in 2021.

Meanwhile, to combat the much-discussed “range anxiety” associated with EV charging, the government said that it is requiring a 99% reliability rate at rapid chargepoints to give consumers confidence in finding chargepoints that work wherever they travel.

The government will also mandate that chargepoint operators provide real-time data, allowing consumers to compare prices and streamline payment options.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that clean transport was “another way we can drive down our dependence on external energy supplies.”

“It will also create new high-skilled jobs for our automotive and energy sectors and ultimately secure more sustainable and affordable motoring for all,” he added.

In January, data from British Gas found that EV owners face a “postcode lottery” regarding the cost of charging, with prices differing greatly across England and Wales.

According to research commissioned by British Gas under a Freedom of Information request, only 21 councils across England and Wales currently offer free charging for their residents while the rest can charge up to £4 ($5.40) per kWh.

Earlier this week, chief executive of automotive industry lobby the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Mike Hawes told journalists in a press briefing that the industry hoped to see a “commensurate target” outlined in the strategy, to ensure that as EV sales increase and demand for chargers rises considerably, “the two elements are aligned.”

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