Smart Transport

New data reveals North-South divide for public charging infrastructure

Electric vehicle charge point and money

A freedom of information (FOI) request to 400 councils has revealed drivers in the South are paying over a quarter (28%) more compared with other areas of England and Wales.

British Gas commissioned the FOI request, which also revealed there are 21 councils across England and Wales, including Leeds, Bridgend and Woking, where it is completely free to charge an EV using council owned public chargers.

It costs drivers in the South (East Anglia, London, the South East and South West of England) 32p per kWh to recharge compared with just 25p per kWh for people in the North (Wales, the Midlands, the North East and North West of England and Yorkshire & The Humber), based on the average price of the cheapest council owned chargers in each area.

Region Cost to charge p/kWh using cheapest public chargers available
West Midlands £0.20
East Midlands £0.22
North West £0.22
Wales £0.24
South East £0.25
London £0.26
North East £0.28
Yorkshire & The Humber £0.31
East of England £0.40
South West £0.63

Although drivers in the South may have access to 1,468 more on-street charging points than their Northern counterparts, it seems they are having to pay more to use them.

British Gas said this location discrimination leaves drivers unfairly out of pocket and makes the transition to EVs less accessible ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars.

The investigation shows that it will cost drivers in the South over 10% more to use the cheapest council owned fast chargers than those in the North (32p vs 29p per kWh respectively).

No driveways a barrier to EV adoption

The problem is worse for any drivers without a driveway.

With no access to home charging EV drivers are reliant on public charging infrastructure, which British Gas said makes the economics of switching to electric unfeasible.

The company’s own research of 2,000 drivers shows that of those who do not have a driveway or off-street parking, just 7% already have an EV, less than a quarter (24%) are considering switching but over half (53%) are not considering purchasing an EV at all.

Drivers are confused about the information available on EVs, with three in five (60%) saying they feel there is a lack of information on both public and home charging costs.

A huge number of motorists said that they didn’t know that charging costs vary depending on location (60%), between different speed chargers (56%), between different public charging operators (55%) and between public vs home charging (53%), with more than half (51%) saying that clearer information on charging costs would help more people to make the switch.

Out of all the regions in England and Wales, British Gas said West Midlands is leading the way by making public charging more financially accessible to all, costing 20p per kWh to charge on average using the cheapest council owned chargers available.

The East Midlands is the next cheapest region to charge, at 22p per kWh, on average.

Two of the home nations, Scotland and Northern Ireland, go further and are home to government mandated, subsidised and maintained public EV charging infrastructure: the ChargePlace Scotland and ecarNI networks, offering free or heavily discounted charging.

This postcode lottery of charging prices is best demonstrated in the South West, where the cheapest charger costs 63p per kWh, on average.

This is more than 57% higher than the second most expensive region, the East of England, where it costs 40p per kWh to charge.

However, prices do vary per council.

Many drivers may be shocked to learn of regional pricing disparities, as more than one in three (34%) expect charging costs to be the same in the North and the South.

Over half  58% went on to say that they think that the Government needs to invest money into public charging infrastructure in all regions of the UK equally to support the levelling up agenda.

 Lucy Simpson, head of EV enablement at British Gas, said: “The latest figures demonstrate the need for all UK councils to play their part in supporting the transition to EVs.

“Currently, we have 21 progressive councils that have decided to support local EV adoption, so we would expect a greater uptake of EVs to come through in these areas than in councils where it is expensive to charge. If charging doesn’t become more accessible in these areas, we could see a slower rate of adoption.”

Most expensive public chargers available:

Council Cost to charge p/kWh using most expensive public charger available
   
Cotswold £4.00 (fast)
Harrogate £3.50 (rapid)
Uttlesford £3.30 (rapid)
Cotswold £3.10 (rapid)

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