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Strategy for 300,000 UK public EV chargers by 2030 announced

Date: 25 March 2022   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Plans for 300,000 public EV chargers to be available to drivers by 2030 have been announced by the UK Government.

Under its new Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, the government said it would be committing £1.6 billion towards network expansion, taking the number of chargers to around five times the number of fuel pumps currently available in the UK.

In addition, the government said new legal requirements on operators would see drivers able to use contactless payment, compare charging prices and find nearby chargers via apps.  

It said significant support would be focused on helping drivers without access to off-street parking, as well as on providing fast chargers for longer journeys.

The government said a £500 million investment in community charging would include a £450 million Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure fund, to support projects such as EV hubs and on-street charging, with an immediate pilot scheme allowing local authorities to bid for a share of an initial £10 million. The fund also includes up to £50 million to fund staff to work on local challenges and public charger planning.

Meanwhile, the existing £950 million Rapid Charging Fund will support the rollout of at least 6,000 high powered super-fast chargers across English motorways by 2035.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We're powering ahead with plans to help British people go electric, with our expanding charging network making journeys easier right across the country.

"Clean transport isn't just better for the environment, but is another way we can drive down our dependence on external energy supplies. It will also create new high-skilled jobs for our automotive and energy sectors and ultimately secure more sustainable and affordable motoring for all."

Although the published strategy states that 300,000 chargers by 2030 is a minimum target, it adds that it could potentially be more than double that number.

The strategy states that everyone should be able to find reliable public charging whether they live in urban or rural areas, with access unlimited by income or location, and that effortless charging for both private and commercial drivers should be the norm.

It picks out the current slow rollout of low power, on-street charging as a particular concern, highlighting how many fleet drivers rely on this type of charging.

Reacting to the government's announcement, the BVRLA said it welcomed the new strategy, but added that it would like to see further steps taken to address the needs of fleets.

The rental and leasing industry body's chief executive Gerry Keaney said: "This strategy is a major step forward that will give greater confidence to the millions of road users that need to make the switch to electric over the next decade. 

"The recognition for the mix of different charging solutions is crucial. It is not simply about having more chargers, we need the right solutions, placed strategically to be accessible to all drivers. 

"We know that government and officials are keen to learn about and support fleets with their infrastructure challenges. As a sector that buys and operates more than 50% of EVs in the UK, we would like to see these priorities acknowledged, with more consideration given to appropriate support and interventions."

Giving his reaction, Vauxhall managing director Paul Wilcox said he thought the government should have gone further.

He said: "With demand for EVs rising, and an expanding choice of EVs available, we believe that public confidence in a visible, reliable and easy to use charging network is key - especially for those who do not have the luxury of off-street charging.

"Whilst we welcome the government's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy, we feel that it is a missed opportunity to provide certainty to customers by mandating binding targets on the roll-out of the charging infrastructure in the UK. 

"It is essential that infrastructure keeps pace with market demand, or in fact leads demand, to remove any customer fears of 'charging anxiety' and accelerates the electrification of Britain's roads as quickly as possible."

Giving her reaction, Octopus Electric Vehicles CEO Fiona Howarth said: "It's great to see support for a broad range of reliable charging - from high-speed convenient rapids for topping up on longer journeys, to affordable local charging for regular use.

"The reality is that most people won't use rapid chargers often, alternatively using home, workplace, kerbside and community charging that cost as little as £5 to fill up, instead of up to £40 at a rapid. But having an increasing base of reliable rapid chargers will continue to build confidence and encourage more people to make the switch to clean, green driving."

Coinciding with the government's announcement, charging company BP Pulse has also announced its own plans to spend £1 billion on developing UK charging infrastructure.

The company's senior vice president Richard Bartlett said: "This £1 billion investment is vital to provide the charging infrastructure the UK needs.  We're investing to build a world-class network.

"This investment allows us to deliver more. More high-speed charging in dedicated hubs and on existing fuel and convenience sites. More home charging services. And crucial enhancements to our digital technology that will make charging fast, easy and reliable."