EV Charge Points Rise Rapidly Despite Polling Apathy

The recent local and mayoral elections saw plenty of big issues being discussed, as well as being a chastening time for a Conservative government floundering in the polls just a few months before a general election. But one issue gained surprisingly scant attention.

While ULEZ got lots of coverage in the London mayoral election and the issue of potholes has been a major concern across the country, Auto Express noted that electric charger provision gained very little attention. 

Writing ahead of the elections, the publication pointed to research carried out by Vauxhall showing that local voters were troubled by a lack of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in their area, with 90 per cent of drivers concerned there was not enough local capacity yet.

At the same time, however, only 25 per cent said they were aware of local candidates making improved charger provisions part of their campaigns, even though three-quarters felt councils need to be the driving force behind an increase in chargers.

Does this mean that political pressure for EV chargers is going to be so low there is no point in electricians taking an EV charging course? Or does the true picture show something very different?

A clue may be found by looking deeper at what is happening in three cities highlighted in the Auto Trader article. Vauxhall’s concern, which underpinned its research, follows the launch last year of its Electric Streets Campaign, which offered a platform for drivers to register their charging needs.

It said this showed “high levels of interest for charge point installations logged in cities including Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham,” which, it added, were “all in localities where a large percentage of drivers said EV owners require further support from their Local Authority”. 

The latest government data (April 2024) shows that Birmingham has 550 chargers for its 1.14 million population, Leeds has 527 for its 815,000 residents, while 600,000 Glaswegians share 439 chargers.

On the one hand, this looks like bad news, since these big cities trail well behind the best-supplied places. For instance, Coventry, with a population of about one-third of neighbouring Birmingham, has 1,713 chargers, while two London boroughs – Hammersmith & Fulham and the City of Westminster – have more than 2,000.

However, this way of looking at the picture may be unduly negative. While some places undoubtedly trail behind for EV provision, the fact is that the three big cities mentioned have still seen a large increase in chargers, and the numbers continue to rise all over the country.

That appears to have been unaffected by the low profile this issue has had in the recent elections, suggesting that this may have been more a matter of oversight than intent.

As Edie reports, the latest data on overall charger installation is very positive. Government and ZapMap data show that the UK has now passed 60,000 public chargers (double the figure at the start of 2022), with 10,000 installed in the first six months of 2024.

ZapMap founder Melanie Shufflebotham said: “This is really just the crest of the wave. There’s a real momentum behind the increased rate of charge point installations up and down the country.”

The lesson is this: While politicians might not have put EV chargers in their election leaflets, there is clearly a high and growing demand for skilled electricians to fit them.