‘Unreliable’ charge points putting people off buying electric vehicles

At the beginning of 2017, it became government policy that all petrol and diesel cars must be off the road by 2040 causing quite a media stir. Click4Reg.co.uk investigated the impact of this bill on the popularity of electric cars, and sought to identify if electric charge points are growing at the same rate across the UK.

Click4Reg.co.uk analysed data sourced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and found that annual new electric car registrations in the UK have grown significantly over the last few years.

In 2017 alone, there 94,093 electric vehicles were registered, up from 69,933 registered last year – a 34.54 per cent increase. This year, March saw the highest number of electric vehicles registered (22,816), and September was second highest, with 22,619 purchases.

The rise in the number of electric vehicles bought could be down to the government’s Plug-in Car Grant, which began in January 2011, to help people save as much as £4,500 on a selection of electric cars to reduce the number of petrol and diesel cars on the road. Since its launch, the number of new cars registered through the scheme reached 116,649 in September 2017, a contrast to just 910 in 2011.

Despite the rise in electric vehicles on the roads, Click4Reg has found that whilst the number of charge points are increasing, the number is insufficient – demand is soaring, but reliability and a range of charge points is grinding to a halt.

As of June 2017, there were 12,849 electric vehicle charging connectors on 6,913 devices in 4,476 locations across the UK – an increase from 2011, when 1,537 charging points were available.

Research by Click4Reg has found that of all charge points situated around the UK, 22 per cent (2,984) were situated in Greater London. Scotland had the second highest number of charge points at 2,015 (14.8 per cent), followed by the South East with an estimated 1,753 charge points for electric cars. With 2,555 less than London, Wales had the least amount of charge points available (429).

According to the RAC Foundation, the UK charge point network is “not attractive to use”. Since June 2017, a staggering 13 per cent of charging points did not work, which equates to around 900 fewer charge points available to electric vehicle users.

Consequently, 80 per cent of owners have access to home charging points according to Zap-Map. With a government grant, home-charging points cost about £300 to install, while several manufacturers provide them as part of the sales package.

This is a great incentive. However, people do not always have access to off street parking. In outer London, 35 per cent of households have no off-street parking available to charge an EV, and inside London, the number almost doubles to 63 per cent.

In a survey, Click4Reg asked electric vehicle owners questions ranging from how happy they were with their electric vehicle, to how impressed they were with the supply and demand of public charge points.

The results include:

  • 91 per cent were happy with their electric vehicle and wouldn’t consider going back to an ICE vehicle
  • 96 per cent of electric vehicle owners were dissatisfied with public charge points
  • 88 per cent said the public charge points are too unreliable (e.g. either broken, have cars using them as parking spaces etc.)
  • 74 per cent of participants said the presence of EV charging facilities was a key factor when deciding where to park
  • 82 per cent believe that the government is failing to keep up with the demand for electric vehicle charge points in the UK
  • 77 per cent of respondents are put off by purchasing an electric vehicle due to the unreliability of charge points in the UK.

Recently Shell announced it will be opening its world-first electric car charge points in the UK. Three Shell “Recharge” points have been installed in London, Surrey and Derby and the points will be able to charge 80 per cent of a vehicle’s battery in 30 minutes. Shell aims to install another 7 charge points in London and Reading later this year.

In addition to this, Gov.uk last week published an Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill which reveals that motorway services and large petrol retailers will be required to install charge points for electric cars, under plans announced in the House of Commons by transport minister John Hayes, to keep up with demand.

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