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EV infrastructure gap

While the uptake is still relatively gradual, we’re seeing more and more electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads of the UK, and subsequently, more charging stations in places like service stations, supermarkets and other public places.

It’s all part of the government’s aim to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

However, there’s still a long way to go to reach those goals, with a lack of charging infrastructure one of the major barriers that can discourage people from swapping to an EV.

There are currently 475,800 electric vehicles in the UK, but just 24,219 public chargers, meaning there are around 20 vehicles per charging station.

So, when we take into account both the number of EVs and the number of chargers around the country, which are the areas where the availability of places to charge is too sparse compared to the demand?

The areas with the biggest EV infrastructure gaps

1. Isles of Scilly, South West

Registered EVs: 42
Public charging devices: 0
Chargers per 100 EVs: 0

While there are only 42 registered EVs on the tiny Isles of Scilly, there are actually currently zero public chargers on the islands, despite a plan to install 28 charging points being announced.

However, while there may be no public places to charge on the islands, the fact that they’re so small means that those 42 people who do own EVs likely don’t have too much trouble getting from A to B by using their home chargers.

The Isles of Scilly is obviously one of the most remote parts of the country and the fact that there are so few people and so few EVs on the islands, explains why there’s such a lack of infrastructure in the area.

On top of this, even on the biggest of the islands, St Mary’s, a journey from one side of the island to another takes not much longer than ten minutes, so the need for chargers to power long-range journeys simply doesn’t exist.

2. Stockport, North West

Registered EVs: 34,767
Public charging devices: 35
Chargers per 100 EVs: 0.1

Stockport, Greater Manchester is the local authority in the UK with the highest number of electric vehicles overall, with just under 35,000.

While that’s a great uptake, the town is home to just 35 public chargers, about a thousand times fewer than there are EVs.

3. Swindon, South West

Registered EVs: 17,457
Public charging devices: 45
Chargers per 100 EVs: 0.26

Another town struggling to keep up with the demand for electric vehicles is Swindon, Wiltshire, where there are currently over 17,000 EVs, but just 45 public places to charge them.

A report by the Swindon Advertiser predicts that the number of EVs in the town could be as high as 56,000 by 2030, although also says that 32% of homes have no garage or off-road car park and so are unable to charge at home, so would rely on public chargers.

The 50 worst-prepared areas for EV adoption

The best-prepared areas for EV adoption

1. Coventry, West Midlands

Registered EVs: 1,116
Public charging devices: 456
Chargers per 100 EVs: 40.86

On the other hand, there are some areas that are extremely well prepared for a rapid adoption of electric vehicles, none more so than Coventry, which has over 1,000 EVs, backed up by 456 charging stations.

That works out as just over a charger per EV in the city, which recently offered businesses a two month “try before you buy” trial to try and encourage them to switch their fleets to electric.

2. Na h-Eileanan Siar, Scotland

Registered EVs: 70
Public charging devices: 27
Chargers per 100 EVs: 38.57

While the Isles of Scilly were among the worst-prepared places for EVs, the opposite is true for another of the groups of islands off the shore of the UK, with Na h-Eileanan Siar (better known as the Outer Hebrides) boasting 38.57 chargers per 100 EVs.

Despite being a small and sparsely populated chain of islands, it seems that the Outer Hebrides are ahead of the game when it comes to EV infrastructure, perhaps with one eye on the needs of the many tourists who visit each year.

3. Brighton and Hove, South East

Registered EVs: 1,041
Public charging devices: 331
Chargers per 100 EVs: 31.80

One of the UK’s major cities takes third place, with the seaside resort of Brighton & Hove having 31.80 electric vehicle chargers per 100 EVs.

The city saw a surge in registrations in the last year, but the infrastructure is clearly in place to deal with the demand, with 200 lamppost chargers being installed last year.

The top 50 best-prepred areas for EV adoption

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The number of electric vehicles in each local authority was sourced from the Department for Transport and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s licensed ultra low emission vehicles by local authority data and refers to the total number of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) registered as of Q1 2021.

ULEVs are vehicles that are reported to emit less than 75g of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the tailpipe for every kilometre travelled.

The number of public charging devices was sourced from the Department for Transport and Office for Zero Emission Vehicles’ electric vehicle charging device statistics data refers to the number of publicly available electric vehicle charging devices by all speeds, as of July 2021.