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Top 40 towns to charge an EV revealed

The south of the UK is moving out in front, building the networks that future motorists will be looking for...
Opinion & News 25 January 2022

NEW DATA: Last Thursday the Department for Transport released its latest EV charging statistics that cover the final quarter of 2021 (October, November, December). As a headline, the stats seem positive news. As of New Year’s Day, there were 28,375 public chargepoints in the UK, an increase of 9% by comparison to the previous quarter. This means, during 2021, the number of public chargers increased by 37% (or 7,600 in total). That means for every 25 EVs sold last year, one charger was installed (last year 190,000 EVs were sold in 2021 according to SMMT).

UK TOP 40: As part of some analysis I’ve done into the new figures, I’ve pulled together the UK’s top 40 locations to juice up an EV. There are two tables below, one that shows the top locations based on total devices in the area, and the other table is those with the highest number of chargers per 100,000 residents. These figures cover all power types. As you might expect, London boroughs dominate the top 10 - as many urbanites rely on public charging - but perhaps they richly deserve the top spot. In the far right column, I’ve included their position from a year before. Some huge upward swings!

Total devices top 40 chart

   

Based on DfT statistics and data from January 2022

Per 100,000 top 40 chart

   

Based on DfT statistics and data from January 2022

RAPID CHECK: When DfT’s stats came out last week, the Daily Mail ran a story suggesting that 25 electric cars to one charger being built is bad. But I actually think it seems pretty good. We have to remember many of those 25 will have home devices, and not all are going to need a public charger every day. However, what does matter I think is the speed of that 1 charger. DfT still, as part of its statistical breakdowns, differentiates between the number of slower chargers and those that are rapid (aka. provide a speed of 25kW or more). Rapid and fast chargers should really be the default in a lot of public places now - they are certainly what many motorists expect. Yes, there’s still acres of room for slow trickle devices (such as lamp posts etc.) but out on the road or even in urban areas, people don’t want to leave their cars deserted for hours, especially if they have large batteries. However, last year only 1,276 rapid devices were installed (a 33% increase). That means, for around every 150 EVs, only one 25kW+ device was installed. That brings the total to around 5,156 in the UK.

   

Growth in UK public rapid charging devices since 2015

Net negative… I’ve been looking in-depth at the rapid charger figures for 2021 to 2022 and I’ve found some interesting things. Firstly, I’ve discovered a total of 17 towns that actually lost devices in their neighbourhoods last year, such as York (who had 14 and now have 13), Harrogate (that went from 14 down to 12), and Leicester (who went from having 3 to just a miserable 1 rapid device).

Not much better… While losing chargepoints is embarrassing, not adding any is still pretty woeful. I’ve noted around 103 towns – including some major cities like Bath, Middlesbrough, Salford, – plus huge London boroughs – Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Hackney, City of London and Ealing – who didn’t add a single rapid device during 2021. Now, arguably, this might mean they already had thousands of chargers in place. However, I can assure you looking at these figures, the number of rapid devices is mostly in the low 10s, with Ealing having the highest number of 36 devices pre-2021.

Silver lining… In more positive news, there are around 116 towns and cities that have increased the number of rapid devices in their vicinity by 50% or more. The biggest increase of rapid devices in 2021 belongs to Rugby, who went from having 3 to 27 – no doubt thanks to new Gridserve chargers and Tesla Superchargers being installed at the motorway services last year.

What this shows…Looking at these stats, it’s obvious that the South of the UK is moving out in front building the networks that future motorists will be looking for. London, the South East and South West still lead the way. However, there is an obvious outlier in Scotland, which have 707 rapid devices and increased the number 30% during 2021, topping the leaderboard when you look at devices per 100,000 people. As we push into 2022, maybe local authorities and the government need to start scrutinising a lot more where public funding for charging devices is going. While, according to a 2020 report, the UK is just about on track with its chargepoint growth, if the deployment is unbalanced this could really impact the future.

   

Public rapid charging devices per 100,000 of the population by UK country and region

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