That £500m fund to support ultra-rapid charging will see up to 6000 charging stations installed across England by 2035 when the ban of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars comes into force, with the first wave destined to go online by 2023. Utility switching specialists, Uswitch, have looked at the cities in the UK that are most in need of infrastructure investment as part of its Electric Nation study.
It found that there was a huge disparity between the best and worst performing places. In general, its research also reflects what was found late last year in terms of the disparity between regions in terms of EV charge point access.
Uswitch's methodology was simple, but provides a good outline of regional and locational differences. It used data from Zap-Map to locate chargers within cities – ring fenced by postcode – and extrapolated a broad representative number of EV drivers by using DVLA data. It assumed that 2.5 per cent of vehicles registered within an area were EVs, taken from the 2019 SMMT registrations data.
Uswitch ranked its findings by the number of EVs per charge point, with a lower number of EVs per charge point obviously being better for overall availability. It found the cities most in need of new EV charge points were generally in the north of the country or the Midlands. The 'worst' cities were:
On the flip side of the equation, the following 10 UK cities were found to have the best ratio of EVs per charging point:
Uswitch also looked at the growth in charge point numbers over the past year, comparing April 2019 to April 2020 through a previous study by tonik energy, which also used Zap-Map data. Coventry, which ranks as the eighth best city in terms of EV preparedness, has made the biggest strides having installed more than 140 new charging points over the last year (+293 per cent). Sheffield (126 chargers) and Derby (63 chargers) made the next best improvements, with a +147 per cent and +142 per cent increase in charge points respectively.
Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “It’s a really exciting time to be an EV driver. This research suggests that the Rapid Charging Fund could have a significant impact for drivers across the UK - especially for those living in cities such as Stoke-on-Trent, Southend and Birmingham who are thinking about purchasing one.
“The funding will be instrumental in delivering a more sustainable future for the nation’s transport. It’s crucial though that this investment is spent wisely and is targeted towards the regions that need the funding most.”
The obvious flaw in Uswitch's research is that the actual number of EVs per charge point could be significantly better or worse depending on their popularity in a specific area. For example, top 10 places like Greater London, Bristol and Brighton have significantly higher levels of EV ownership than some of the bottom 10 places, like Hull and Preston. In reality, the number of EVs per charge point might be far more equal than the data suggests.
That being said, it's a fact that the availability of public charging is a big factor in car buyer propensity to go for an EV. The more charging points there are, the more people will be tempted to buy an EV. From that perspective, the cities in the UK with the least charging points and therefore the worst EV per charge point ratio stand to benefit the most from funds from that government pot.
Ultimately, the ideal scenario is equal coverage across the country, and that is what policy makers should be aiming for.