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UK’s public charge point network grows by more than a quarter in a year

The UK’s public EV charging network has grown by 27.0% over the last 12 months, including significant growth in the first quarter of 2021.

Total charge points in Q1 2021 were up 9.7% compared to Q4 2020

The figures, published by the Department for Transport, show there was a total of 22,790 public electric vehicle charging devices available in the UK as of 1 April 2021. This compares to 17,947 a year earlier.

A lot of the growth has happened in the last quarter too; total charge points in Q1 2021 were up 9.7% compared to the 20,775 reported in Q4 2020.

And of the total devices available, 4,259 are rapid chargers – up by 379 units or 9.8% in the last quarter.

The DfT said this was the largest absolute quarterly growth in both total and rapid devices since 2015.

And since 2015, the number of public devices has grown by 43% per year, on average. Rapid devices have increased at a much higher rate, with an average annual increase of almost 61%.

The DfT data also shows an increase in charge point reliability; available devices increased by 2,015 in Q1, up nearly 10% on Q4.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, welcomed the continued growth of the public charge point network, which shows we are moving in the right direction and will help help calm drivers’ issues with both range anxiety and the availability of charge points. Both of these were cited by drivers as still being barriers to EV take-up in Ofgem research published last week.

But Cousens added: “While this progress is highly welcomed, we need to continue the push for the charge point network expanding further and offering a wide range of solutions. A sustainable and visible charge point network will help convince more drivers to switch to electric.”

The latest DfT data shows wide variations still remain in regional distribution of charging devices. London and Scotland have the highest level of charging provision per 100,000 of population, with 80 and 43 devices per 100,000 respectively. This compares to 20 devices per 100,000 population in Yorkshire and the Humber and just 17 devices on the same scale in Northern Ireland.

Cousens also said further work is needed to help persuade drivers to make the switch.

“Now what we need is more incentives for car owners to switch, as called for by the Public Accounts Committee. The AA have suggested that scrapping VAT from the purchase price, as Norway did, would be a huge boost,” he outlined.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. Natalie edits all the Fleet World websites and newsletters, and loves to hear about any latest industry news.

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