Last month it was widely reported that the number of charging points had overtaken the number of petrol stations in the UK. There was a lot of fanfare and ministers, no doubt relieved to be able to say something about a subject that isn’t Brexit, were queuing up to express their delight.
Unfortunately, if you delve into the data a little deeper you’ll see that the picture is not quite as rosy. The numbers, researched by charge point finder Zap-Map belie the fact that there are around 50 separate charging providers each with their own pricing structures. Although a ruling last year means that any can be accessed with a debit card, most users will have a contract of some sort with one or another of the charging providers, which may or may not have any points in the same county where the motorist requires volts. Another depressing stat from the map company is that at any given time roughly a quarter of the chargers are out of use.
“How the hell are we expected to get to carbon neutral when the charging network is so random, inconsistent and generally awful to use?” tweeted Connor Twomey, Head of PR for Mitsubishi in the UK. Mitsubishi produce the Outlander PHEV, the best selling plug-in hybrid car in the country.
Conservative MP Bill Wiggin tabled a Private Members’ Bill in an attempt to regulate the payment system. EV users in the UK are currently disadvantaged compared with our European neighbours due to a lack of an interoperable payment system for EV charging” he told a parliament in late 2018.
While it is argued that most people with a plug-in hybrid will charge them at home, so a complex infrastructure isn’t needed, we’d suggest that the number of people who own their own property that has both parking and is able to have a charging point connected may not be as high as Whitehall thinks…