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UK needs ‘step change’ in EV charging rollout, report says

A new report, published today by Connected Kerb, calls for a ‘step change’ in the ambition of the UK’s EV charging rollout.

EV charging
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Ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars in support of the UK’s net zero goals, companies including EY, UKPN, Motability,Mitie Group PLC and Connected Kerb are calling for a ‘supercharged’ infrastructure rollout — described by Connected Kerb's CEO Chris Pateman-Jones as ‘absolutely fundamental to achieving a cleaner and fairer transport future’.

The report, ‘How to meet the UK’s EV charging needs by 2030’, draws on consumer research and insights from 11 industry experts. It outlines what national and local government, investors, developers and charging point providers must do to ensure the UK can deliver ‘ubiquitous, affordable and easy-to access’ charging.

Research from the SMMT found that despite increasing EV registrations in the UK, the ratio of EV charge points to plug-in cars deteriorated by 31 per cent during 2020 alone. This puts Britain’s current ratio (16:1) behind other countries including South Korea (3:1), the Netherlands (5:1) and France (10:1). Motability predicts that the number of charge points will need to increase ten-fold by 2030 to cater to the new numbers of EV drivers.

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While rapid and ultra-rapid charging is developing well in public spaces such as car parks and motorway service stations, the report’s research indicates that the demands of drivers require affordable and easy-to-access chargers to be installed on virtually every residential street across the UK.

Most respondents (80 per cent) said that reliable and affordable chargers located where their car is parked while at home is ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ to their decision on switching to an EV.

The report identifies five key areas of action:

  • “Think big”: those deploying EV charging, particularly local authorities, need to step up ambitions and deploy thousands of chargers, not tens
  • Understand demand: use an evidence-based approach to determine the size of user base and dwell time and forecast how this will change over time. E.g if most parking is overnight or all day, many 7kW long dwell chargers may be better than a few expensive rapid chargers, while if it is mixed-use, multiple options may be needed
  • Longer-term financing: focussing on long-life durable chargers will unlock long-term contracts. Five year contracts will attract short term finance looking for fast returns, limiting deployment to areas of high early EV uptake. 20-year contracts will attract patient infrastructure capital willing to forgo profits for 10+ years, unlocking low capital costs and enabling large scale rapid deployment
  • Install ahead of demand: anticipating how EV use will grow and installing ‘behind-the-scenes’ ground infrastructure from the start, such as grid connections and passive ducting, enables more flexible expansion once EV uptake increases
  • Inclusivity: All parties must provide sufficient charging designed to be inclusive of drivers with disabilities
  • Education and engagement: focusing on centralised education programmes and community engagement on the benefits of driving electric

Thierry Mortier, global digital & innovation lead for energy at EY said: “Long term infrastructure finance is the key that will unlock large scale deployment. In most cases, delivering quality EV charging, at a price people are willing to pay, comes with long payback periods.

“Rapids can make a quick buck in a few high margin areas but most EV chargers in residential areas and workplaces will only turn a profit for investors who are prepared to put long lasting kit in the ground and wait years to see EV adoption catch up. We have to understand driver behaviour and adopt a roll-out based on those insights, not just where there is traffic today.”