More than 500 new chargers a day needed for UK

The UK will need to install 507 electric car charging points a day to be ready for the phase out of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035, according to new research by the motoring industry.

The country will require 2.8 million charging points to be EV-ready by 2035, when the Government has said it will end sales of all new petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid cars, according to research by the Society of Motoring Manufacturers.

There are currently only around 19,300 public car charging points across the country, and reaching that goal would require installation at the rate of 507 new charging points a day, at a cost of £16.7bn according to the research conducted by consultancy Frost and Sullivan. 

“To a certain extent, it's oversupply, because we need to overcome that reticence about uncertainty that fear of being caught short,” said Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the SMMT.

The Government is consulting on bringing forward the ban on sales of new ICE cars to as early as 2030, but the SMMT said even the current deadline would not be possible without further support. 

It is calling for the extension of Plug-in Grant subsidies for new purchases of EVs, and its extension to plug-in hybrids, which it says is a “critical” transition technology. 

It also wants VAT exemptions for all zero emission capable cars, which it calculates would save families an average of £5,500 on a battery electric and up to £9,750 on an SUV. It estimates this could drive 2.4 million sales in the next five years.

Demand for electric and plug-in hybrid cars has more than doubled over the past year, but they still represent only 8 per cent of new car sales. 

The upfront costs for a new electric car are falling, but are still significantly more than average cost for a similar petrol vehicle, although studies show EVs are cheaper for consumers over their lifetime. 

The research came as a new poll for AA and ITV suggested that 47 per cent of drivers say they will consider buying an electric vehicle, but 7 in 10 say lack of charging points put them off.

The SMMT’s call was echoed by Paul Morozzo, transport campaigner at Greenpeace UK, who said: “It’s hardly surprising that people are still wary of buying an electric car while there aren’t enough charging points to service a mass market.”

But, Mr Morozzo added: “The best way to drive down the price of electric vehicles is to bring the ban on new petrol and diesel cars and vans forward to 2030 – and make sure that hybrids, which are still mostly powered by fossil fuel, are included in this ban.

The Government has committed £500 million to a rapid charging network on the motorways andand a £200 million investment fund for public charging network expansion.

Mr Hawes criticised the plan to include plug-in hybrids, which can operate on shorter distances using electricity, in the 2035 ban. 

"Absolutely, in the short to medium term it is going to be plug-in hybrids which play a crucial role in familiarising consumers with this new type of technology," he said. "We think plug-in hybrids should be exempt from any ban.”

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