Why EV Chargers Outside Cities Pose A Big Challenge

If Britain’s gradual transition away from petrol and diesel cars is to be accomplished by a mass switch to electric vehicles (EVs), a few things need to happen. EVs need to be cheaper, more lithium must be found to make enough batteries and many more chargers will be required, which requires more electricians to train to do this.

The lack of chargers in some places is an issue that can cause ‘range anxiety’, the fear among motorists that they could end up stranded out on the sticks with their battery run down and no charger anywhere near.

Writing on the topic for the London Evening Standard, editor-in-chief Dylan Jones, a keen driver of EVs, said this had been a concern of his when contemplating long journeys outside the capital, but suggested that it was actually a lack of free parking for EVs that stood in the way of making them highly popular as a means of getting about within the Metropolis.

What Mr Jones did not suggest is a problem in London is any shortage of charge points there. A lack of range anxiety is not just down to the shorter distances involved in staying within the M25, but the abundance of chargers.

The most recent data on this, provided by the Department for Transport last October, showed that of the 32 London boroughs plus the City, all but seven were in the top 20 per cent of local authorities for EV total charger provision, while all but nine were in the top fifth for chargers per 100,000 of population.

Among the highest were Hammersmith & Fulham (1,372.7 per 100,000), Westminster (1,262.4), the City of London (731), Southwark (575.1) and Kensington and Chelsea (557.9). All this despite London having the lowest per capita car ownership and by far the lowest share of work commutes by car in the UK.

The situation in other urban areas is very varied. Coventry has 383.9 per 100,000, but Birmingham only 43.6, with 498 spread between 1.1 million people. Liverpool is up to 119.9, while Manchester lags at just 32.6. Bradford does even worse at 32.2 and Sheffield a little better at 42.6. Leeds, the biggest city in Europe without a Metro system, has a middling 61.2.

At least in these cities range is less of an issue. Thankfully, some rural authorities are among those in the top 20 per cent rates of chargers, including Highland Council, North Yorkshire and Powys, the most geographically large authorities in Scotland, England and Wales respectively.

However, regions like the East of England fare less well, raising the spectre of drivers running out of range in the middle of its vast flat tracts of farmland. Just two authorities east of Cambridge (West Suffolk and North Norfolk) are in the top 20 per cent.

This includes Colchester, Essex’s latest city, at just 39 per 100,000, although the Colchester Gazette has just reported the welcome news of three more chargers being installed at a retail park.

It may be regions like the neighbouring East of England that give Londoners range anxiety. That is why it is vital that there, as well as cities that lag way behind, so much more needs to be done.