Smart Transport

SMMT warns UK charging infrastructure is not keeping pace with EV sales

Electric vehicle (EV) charging

The ratio of electric vehicle charge points to plug-in cars deteriorated by almost a third (31%) during 2020, according to new research from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

At the end of 2019, 11 plug-in vehicles potentially shared a standard public charge point capable of charging both battery electric (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs). In contrast, at the end of 2020, the ratio had fallen to one charger for every 16 plug-ins.  

Plug-in vehicles accounted for around one in every six new cars registered in 2021, but charge point numbers reveal that public infrastructure is lagging behind, says the SMMT.  

Britain’s ratio of plug-in vehicles on the road to standard public chargers is one of the worst among the top 10 global EV markets at 16:1 in 2020.

South Korea (3:1), the Netherlands (5:1), China (9:1), France (10:1), Belgium and Japan (both 13:1) all offer their EV drivers better coverage, although the UK does marginally outperform Germany (17:1). 

However, with 4,109 new standard public charge points installed between January and September 2021, compared with 212,181 new plug-in car registrations, just one new standard charger is being installed for every 52 new electric cars. 

There are also significant regional disparities in the current provision of standard public charging points. London has the best ratio of cars to chargers at 10:1 – although this fell from 5:1 in 2019.

East of England lowest availability

Meanwhile, the East of England has the lowest availability, with just one standard public charger for every 49 plug-in vehicles.

Wales beats the national average with a ratio of 12:1, while Scotland weighs in at 17:1.

If not addressed, the SMMT claims that these disparities will hamstring vast sections of the country in their ability to deliver zero emission motoring.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Those who can’t have their own home charge point need the confidence that they can still charge as conveniently as they can refuel.

“A deteriorating ratio of public charge points to cars will drain that confidence.”  

Investments are being made in public charging with the Government’s Rapid Charging Fund allocating £950 million to rapid and ultra-rapid charge points, £620m for zero-emission vehicle grants and infrastructure announced in the Net Zero Strategy, and a commitment that all new build homes will include an electric vehicle charging point.

This is insufficient, however, to keep up with consumer demand and targets for accelerated market transition, while increased new home charger provision will not provide any incentive for the millions of existing households that do not have a driveway or designated parking, says the SMMT.

As a result, it is calling on Government to take regulatory action to boost public charge point provision, with binding targets for delivery, commensurate with the targets for vehicle manufacturers to deliver products, to ensure installation rates accelerate.  

Hawes continued: “Recent Government funding for infrastructure was welcome but more private sector investment in public charge points is needed across the country. 

“The UK therefore needs a framework of regulation that makes it easier to fund, build and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure. 

“Consequently, we need commensurate and binding targets for charge point rollout and reliability so that all those without a driveway or designated parking can be confident of finding a convenient charger, and one that works.  

“Decarbonising road transport is essential if we are to address climate change but it needs a framework that compels all sectors to match the investment already being made by automotive to help consumers decarbonise their lives.”

Comment as guest

Login  /  Register


No comments have been made yet.

Related content

Office Address
  • Smart Transport
    Media House
    Lynch Wood
    PE2 6EA
Join the community
  • Smart Transport is the UK's most important brand to bring together senior public policy makers and influential private sector leaders to showcase real-time solutions aligned to government policy.
  • Find out more
  • Insight


Welcome to Smart Transport

Welcome to the Smart Transport website, keeping you up-to-date with the latest news, insight and reports from policymakers and thought leaders.

The Smart Transport brand connects policy to solutions by bringing national government and local authority policymakers together with private sector organisations.

Contact Lindsay Greatbatch for more information.

© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd
Media House, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6EA - Registered number 01176085 IPSO regulated logo


Smart Transport members

Smart Transport board members


Please note:
By submitting any material to us you are confirming that the material is your own original work or that you have permission from the copyright owner to use the material and to authorise Bauer Consumer Media to use it as described in this paragraph. You also promise that you have permission from anyone featured or
referred to in the submitted material to it being used by Bauer Consumer Media. If Bauer Consumer Media receives a claim from a copyright owner or a person
featured in any material you have sent us, we will inform that person that you have granted us permission to use the relevant material and you will be responsible for paying any amounts due to the copyright owner or featured person and/or for reimbursing Bauer Consumer Media for any losses it has suffered as a result.