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Action needed to prevent electric vehicle ‘charging blackspots’

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The number of public chargepoints for electric vehicles needs to be dramatically scaled up or else the nation runs the risk of having a host of “charging blackspots”.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from think tank Policy Exchange, which argued that public chargepoints need to be installed at five times the current rate if the UK is to be properly served by the time the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles comes into effect in 2030.

Currently, the UK boasts around 35,000 public chargepoints with around 7,000 new ones installed each year. However by the end of the decade around 400,000 chargepoints will be needed.

It’s not just the number of chargepoints that needs to be addressed however, but their location too. The report noted: “There is also a risk that chargepoint operators will build too few chargepoints in rural areas, which could put at risk the government’s manifesto commitment to ensure that everyone is within 30 miles of a rapid EV chargepoint.”

The report highlighted that there can be significantly different levels of provision even within neighbouring areas. For example, in the London Borough of Hackney, 54% of residents are within a five-minute walk of a public chargepoint. This crashes to just 11% in the neighbouring borough of Newham. This isn’t a phenomenon unique to the capital either, with research highlighting similar issues in Brighton, Cardiff, Exeter, Liverpool, Oxford and Portsmouth.

According to Policy Exchange, it’s crucial for the government to intervene in order to establish a wider range of charging options across the country if it is to meet its manifesto commitment.

The report also highlights the risk of chargepoint providers enjoying local monopolies, and the opportunity to introduce excessive pricing for their services.

After all, once a company installs a public chargepoint on a specific street, it’s very unlikely that a rival provider will set up their own chargepoint on the same street.

The report states: “Many of the stakeholders we spoke to acknowledge a growing risk of local monopolies and excessive pricing.”

Policy Exchange called on the the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) to include the issue in its ongoing market study into the issue of electric vehicle charging.

How to find chargepoints near you

Sales of electric vehicles in recent years show the growing popularity of these more environmentally-friendly motors. 
According to the most recent data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), sales of battery electric vehicles jumped by 186% in 2020, while mild hybrid petrol and diesel motors also saw dramatic sales increases of 184% and 80% respectively.

While many drivers will rely on chargepoints outside their property, there will inevitably be occasions when you need to make use of a public chargepoint.

There is an interactive map on Zap Map which drivers can use, simply by entering a postcode, which then details the location of local chargepoints, the types of charger available and the cost of using them.

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