electric vehicle charging

Most UK councils failed to install EV chargepoints in 2021 despite booming sales

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Freedom of Information requests to local UK councils have found that 52 per cent have spent nothing on electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints in the last 12 months despite booming sales.

A combination of improving technology, cheaper prices, fuel shortages and the upcoming ban on petrol and diesel vehicles has seen electric vehicle sales reach record highs in the UK this year.

But the FOI requests sent to 374 local councils in the UK from chargepoint firm DevicePilot shows they are not expanding infrastructure to meet the increased demand. Furthermore, investment has been uneven across the country, with some parts making sizable contributions towards EV infrastructure while others have spent nothing or received no government funding to do so.

For example, the FOI requests showed that London councils spent more than double the national average on EV charging in 2021 (£204k) and they are planning to install 39 new chargers per 100,000 people in 2022, compared to a national average of just 9 per 100,000 people.

One response from a council in the North West, deemed typical by DevicePilot, explained that over £100m in budget reductions from central Government since 2010 had left them with not enough cash to fund new charging points.

A council in greater London however, said they had conducted a demand forecasting assessment indicating the need for an average of 121 extra charge points per year over the next decade.

DevicePilot said the findings show that the UK is not yet ready for the booming arrival of universal EV ownership even as 2022 promises to be a record-breaking year for EV investment.

Nearly two thirds of UK councils (60 per cent) received complaints about the availability, reliability or number of charging points over the last 12 months and on average, UK councils received 15 per cent less funding from the Government for EV charging infrastructure in the last 12 months than in the same period in 2020.

The average cost of a council-bought chargepoint in the UK is £6,000, although figures range between £350 and £100,000 depending on a number of factors.

“Universal EV ownership is not a target, it’s an inevitability,” said Pilgrim Beart, DevicePilot CEO. “In the next ten years, more than half the cars on the road will be electric. To facilitate this transformation, the UK must install tens of thousands of chargepoints reaching every corner of the country.

“EVs are vital to the UK’s carbon emissions targets, but while some parts of the UK are on schedule to meet greater EV demands, others areas lack the funding to do anything whatsoever. I have a lot of sympathy for councils whose budgets have been stretched to breaking point by the pandemic and budget cuts, but we cannot continue to let the divide between the EV haves and have nots grow further. It should be the UK’s short-term goal to ensure everyone in the country can reap the benefits of EVs, not just the privileged few.”

A report from the Policy Exchange think tank in February found that the UK needs to ramp up the installation of charge points by five times the current rate in order to meet expected demand by 2030.

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