EV drivers face m-way socket desert
By Simon Hacker | 22nd May 2023
The road to banning sales on petrol and diesel cars in 2030 is facing a potentially catastrophic block that could force the government to abandon its green timetable.
Efforts to build the required infrastructure for EV charging points are woefully slow and the deadline for enabling the change for cars, vans and lorries is slipping away, warns the RAC.
New research from the RAC has highlighted a lack of rapid electric vehicle (EV) points throughout the UK's motorway network.
Despite a government pledge that "every motorway service area has at least six rapid chargers by the end of 2023", the RAC says just 27 out of 119 motorway services in England now meet that target.
Simon Williams, RAC EV spokesperson, 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.
The government's "Taking charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy" issued in March laid out a plan to accelerate the roll-out of high-powered chargers on the strategic road network with a £950m Rapid Charging Fund so EV drivers would feel confident in the ability to undertake longer journeys.
But Mr Williams said the RAC found SIX service stations still have zero charger provision. Leicester Forest, on both sides of the M1, Tebay South on the M6, Carlisle Northbound on the M1, Strensham Southbound on the M5 and Barton Park on the A1(M) are all charge-free zones.
Mr Williams added: "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.
"We have long argued that rapid and ultra-rapid charging is vital to give drivers confidence they can make journeys beyond the range of their vehicles in the most time efficient way possible. While early-adopters have been prepared to plan their journeys carefully around recharging stops, the everyday driver will want this to be much easier and quicker."
And with battery electric vehicles on the road nearing the million mark while the government targets a goal for 80% of new cars sold by 2030 to be zero-emission, he added that it's critical that the country's charging network grows proportionately.
The RAC findings will bolster "charge-point anxiety" which experts warn is deterring drivers from buying electric cars in case they cannot power them up while on journeys.
Lisa Watson, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: "The UK is set to fall significantly short of its charging point targets. This could have a profound effect on consumer uptake of alternative fuel vehicles."
Rapid charging can add about 100 miles to an EV's range in 35 minutes - a figure seen as crucial if timid drivers are to make the switch to running EVs.
Meanwhile data from The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is forecasting a dip in EV sales, having trimmed its prediction of 19.7% for 2023 and 23.3% for 2024 to 18.4 % and 22.6% respectively.
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