Comment: Charging infrastructure must keep pace with demand for EVs

Charlie Jardine, CEO and founder of EO Charging, explains why the rollout of public charge points in the UK must pick up pace in order to keep up with demand for electric vehicles.

You only have to watch a busy road to witness the number of EVs now zipping about. With both individuals and businesses moving away from dirty diesels, EV uptake over the past few years has fast outpaced even the most optimistic predictions. According to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) new registration figures, 2020 was the best ever year for sales of new electric vehicles in the UK, a 186% year-on-year increase, and EVs now account for 6.6% of all new car sales, up from 1.6% in 2019. 

Uptake is on an upward trajectory, and with the ban on the sale of combustion engines coming into effect in 2030, growth in the EV market will be unprecedented over the next decade. We’re seeing increased public and private sector investment and the barriers to entry are being removed. Recent BloombergNEF research predicts that EVs will be cheaper than fossil fuel equivalents by 2027. Let’s face it, this is all great news.

But, there is a sticking point that could significantly hamper this progress – public charging infrastructure in the UK. We are woefully behind on the installation of charge points required to keep up with EV demand. EO Charging’s recent analysis of government data found that the number of public EV charge points in the UK only increased by 26% over the 12-month period to January 2021, compared to a 186% rise in sales of EVs in 2020.

Whilst the majority of charging will be done at work and home, research suggesting about 80%, motorists are still worried about the prospect of running out of juice mid-journey. This is a fear that cripples confidence. For drivers to be confident in switching to EVs, they need to be sure they can top up whenever they want and complete longer journeys that range anxiety might have previously prevented. Being confident that there is accessible and reliable charging infrastructure is a vital driver of mass EV uptake. The implementation of charge points needs to pick up pace!

It’s not just individuals driving the surge in EV use. At EO, we’ve seen a sharp increase in demand from large fleets and companies looking to future-proof their businesses with electrification plans; especially since the Government’s 2030 commitment. We’re seeing much greater progress on charge point installation within the private business fleet sector, which accounts for 59% of vehicles on UK roads. Many companies with large business fleets such as DPD, Amazon and Hermes are already heavily investing in EVs and charging infrastructure. Data from the SMMT revealed that electric van sales were up an incredible 64% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Whilst the installation of private charging infrastructure at workplaces and depots might be on track, we must remember that the same business vehicles will also need to use public charging infrastructure. It’s vital that the UK develops an extensive and reliable public charging network for all road users. Without it, we risk putting people and businesses off EVs when the ball is just starting to roll.

EO Charging (EO) is a leading technology solutions provider in the electric vehicle sector. Designing and manufacturing electric vehicle charging stations and cloud-based charge-point management software for fleets, homes and destinations at its headquarters in Suffolk, United Kingdom, EO also provides installation services and ongoing operations and maintenance.

Image courtesy of EO Charging.

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