UK government misses target of installing electric car-charging points

Only 46 of 119 roadside sites met official goal

Rapid charge points can add 60km of range to an electric vehicle in about 35 minutes. PA
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The UK government has missed targets set for providing electric car chargers near motorways, latest analysis shows.

A plan outlined by the Department for Transport (DfT) set a goal of at least six rapid or ultra-rapid chargers for every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023.

According to RAC analysis of data from charger locator service Zapmap, only 46 of 119 sites (39 per cent) met the target.

The figure was 23 per cent at the end of April last year.

Four locations – Leicester Forest on either side of the M1, Tebay South on the M6 and Barton Park on the A1(M) – have no charging points.

Rapid charge points can add 160km of travel range to an electric vehicle (EV) in about 35 minutes.

They are seen as crucial to encouraging more motorists who make long journeys to switch from petrol or diesel to electric.

A DfT document from March 2022 stated “many operators” of motorway services had “embraced the ambition” to install six high-powered chargers by the end of 2023, with “over 70 per cent” of locations having a plan to deliver this.

“We will continue to work with site operators to ensure that every site is reached," it added.

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The document said a £950 million ($1.2 billion) rapid charging fund would support the installation of charge points across England’s motorways and major A roads.

The fund was set to be available for applications from spring 2023 but has yet to open.

A £70 million pilot scheme for up to 10 motorway service areas and a consultation on the wider fund were established in November.

“It’s clear from our research that the government has fallen well short of its target of having six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area in England," RAC spokesman Simon Williams said.

“There is undoubtedly an eagerness among charge point companies and motorway service operators to install these types of units but unfortunately it’s often the high-power cabling to the grid that’s the major barrier, which is out of their hands.

“More clearly needs to be done to make this process simpler than it is currently.

“Hopefully, once the government’s rapid charging fund kicks fully into action some of these hurdles will be overcome.

“We continue to believe that the wide availability of ultra-rapid charging is crucial in giving both current and future EV drivers confidence to know they can easily make journeys beyond the range of their vehicles in a time-efficient way.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “The number of public charge points is surging across the country and around 96 per cent of motorway services now offer charging facilities for drivers.

“As well as our £70 million pilot to help roll out ultra-rapid charge points on motorways, we are driving forward the biggest reforms to our electricity grid since the 1950s – halving the time it takes to build networks and speeding up connections.”

Updated: January 02, 2024, 12:01 AM