Most UK cars only driven for one hour a day leaving ample time for EV charging

The average car or van in England is driven just 4 per cent of the time, a figure that has barely changed in quarter of a century, the RAC Foundation has said.

For the rest of the time the car or van is either parked at home (73 per cent) or parked elsewhere (23 per cent), for example at work, the body found.

The analysis was revealed in its Standing Still report, which looks at data provided by net-zero analytics consultancy Field Dynamics and the Ordnance Survey, as well as government statistics.

Steve Gooding, RAC Foundation director, said: “The average car is driven just one hour out of every 24, a proportion that is almost the same as it was back in 1995.”

The report also found that around 18 million (65 per cent) of Britain’s 27.6 million households have the potential for off-street parking for at least one car or van, which gives significant opportunity for charging electric vehicles at home.

Gooding continued: “This lack of use does have one silver lining. It means that there is ample opportunity for recharging the next generation of electric vehicles, particularly at home, or at work – so making best use of our cars’ ‘down-time’ rather than us having to make a specific trip just to get refuelled.

“There is clearly a lot of attention focused on providing a rapid public charging network to help address drivers’ range anxiety, but this data shows there is plenty of scope for slower, potentially cheaper recharging facilities to be installed at people’s homes, where the average car spends so much of its time.”

The report also revealed that the most popular cars have got bigger over time. In 1965 the top five bestselling cars in the UK had an average width of 1.5m and length of 3.9m. But by 2020 the top five sellers had grown with an average width of 1.8m and length of 4.3m.

This means that the footprint of the country’s most popular cars – the amount of space they individually take up on the road – has grown by almost a third (32 per cent).

Ben Allan, managing director of Field Dynamics, said: “In the past, it mattered little where people parked their cars and vans, just as long as they were safe and close. 

“However, how these vehicles are parked now can make a significant difference to our progress to net zero as that passive stationary time evolves to an active charging and network balancing session.”

Jenny Raggett of Transport for New Homes said: “The fact that cars are used only 4 per cent of the time raises important questions about the housing we are building today, like why modern public transport – running at high frequencies right into new estates – is not a priority in planning policy and infrastructure investment.

“High-quality public transport – combined with car clubs in new developments – could reduce the need for parking space and allow more green spaces, room for walking and cycling, places to sit and for children to play.”

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