EV charge points need to match the growth in EV car sales

Written by

Tim Greenhalgh

Posted on

April 9, 2020

Rapid EV growth clearly points to the urgent need to expand the number of charge points across the country.

There has been a steady increase in EV charge points across the UK, rising from 42 per 100 kilometre of road in 2011 to 570 in 2019, according to the European Alternative Fuels Observatory.

And a survey by OVO energy cites fears over a lack of charging points as the top reason for not buying an EV. People clearly feel that EVs are a wise choice, if they can charge them easily enough.

ZapMap reports that in Great Britain there were in June last year:

  • 8,639 public charging points (of which 1,507 were rapid)
  • 13,817 devices (2,195 rapid)
  • 23,478 connections (5,062 rapid).

We need rapid growth in the number of charge points to match the rising number of EVs on the road. It’s true that better battery technology means some vehicles already have the range to meet the needs for most journeys without having to charge but peace-of-mind is still not assured.

Rapid charging

That’s why the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been prodding the UK Government forcefully to redouble efforts to expand the nation’s charging network.

The CCC’s ‘central scenario’ is that EVs will make up 60% of new car and van sales (approximately 30% of the total fleet) by 2030.

Its recent research to assess future demand for Britain’s electric vehicle public charging network states:

  • The number of rapid chargers located near the major roads network needs to expand from 460 in 2016 to 1,170 by 2030.
  • The number of public chargers needed for ‘top-up charging’ needs to rise from 2,700 in 2016 to over 27,000 by 2030.
  • Overall nearly 29,000 charge points are needed across Great Britain by 2030, of which around 85% of these are fast (22kW) or rapid (43+kW) chargers.

But currently local authorities do not have a statutory duty to provide electric charging points, and the dire state of local government finances suggests that they will struggle to meet demand.

Commercial charge points

Lack of action has prompted the Government to write to local councils across the UK do more to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle air quality after it emerged just 5 councils had taken advantage of the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme.

Hence the focus on commercial charge points, provided by hotels, retail centres and other high-profile areas.

The EV market continues to be bolstered by the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) which provides grant funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing electric vehicle charge points at domestic properties across the UK.

And the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a voucher-based scheme that provides support towards the up-front costs of the purchase and installation of electric vehicle charge points, for eligible businesses, charities and public sector organisations.

As of May 2019, the plug-in car grant had contributed to the purchase of around 100,000 plug-in hybrid cars, at a cost of over £360 million, according to government figures.

EV tax advantages

Tax changes that came into effect in April reduce company car tax bills. Under the plans, zero-emission 100% electric cars will pay no company car tax in 2020/21, 1% in 2021/22 and 2% in 2022/23.

As a pointer of things to come, vehicle leasing company Zenith reports that orders of EVs have leapt over 300% in salary sacrifice fleets and 250% in its company car fleets over the past six months, as drivers and fleet managers win a tax bonus from going green.

Ban on polluting cars

The move to EVs is being further reinforced with the Government bringing forward a ban on new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars in the UK by five years – to 2035.

While the new plans will be subject to consultation, they take account of the arguments from the CCC and others that swifter actions on green transport are needed if the Government has any chance of meeting the 2050 net zero target.

Its Road to Zero strategy aims for between 50-70% of new car sales to be ultra-low emission by 2030, along with up to 40% of new vans. By 2050, “almost every car and van” should be zero emissions.

The Scottish government does not have the power to ban new petrol and diesel cars but has already pledged to “phase out the need” for them by 2032 with measures such as an expansion of the charging network for electric cars.

Charge point opportunity

A study by UBS in 2016 predicted that diesel would “almost disappear” from the global car market within 10 years if competition from cheaper electric cars and tougher stances by regulators come to pass.

Deloitte estimates the EV market will reach a tipping point in 2022, when the cost of ownership of an electric car is on par with its internal combustion engine counterparts. The International Council on Clean Transportation reports that this is already the case in the UK and four other European countries.

From all this, there’s little doubt that there will a massive increase in demand for charge points and that there is a great business opportunity for a wide range of companies with parking space to offer EV charging as a service.

It’s a way of generating new revenues and business, increasing footfall and being at the centre of the green transport revolution.

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