UK: Electric car charging stations surpass fuel stations
On the latest count, there are a thousand more charging spots for electric cars than pit stops to be found in the UK. Nissan compiled the data that builds on a decline of fuel stations while charging stops show the reverse trend.
The carmaker had predicted the turnaround for 2020. However, there are already almost a thousand more public places to charge electric cars than there are forecourts to pump petrol in the UK. In numbers, this is 9,300 EV charging locations compared to 8,400 fuel stations.
While this may not be a statistical correlation in the strict sense, it shows a reversing trend, albeit slowly. As charging infrastructure is growing, the number of pit stops has been in decline and lastly stagnated at the same time. Almost 80% of UK petrol stations have closed since 1970, while the number of electric vehicle charging locations has increased from a few hundred in 2011 to more than 9,000 in August 2019.
According to Zap-Map, two new rapid charge devices came online every day in the last month, and many UK motorway service stations have charging stations installed. Indeed BP Chargemaster only built on the new trend this week, when opening the first 150 kW charging station near London. The plan is for BP service stations across the UK to get 400 charging units installed by 2021 as part of the Polar network. Shell too has begun to reutilise forecourts and has committed to installing EV chargers at 34 stations across the UK to date.
Meanwhile, the Scottish transport agency reports over a 1,000 public accessible charge points. The average distance between any given location to the nearest charging point is 2.78 miles in Scotland, compared to 3.77 miles in England.
ChargePlace Scotland is behind the installations and will continue. 800 more public charging points are planned through the Switched on Towns and Cities Challenge Fund and the Local Authority Installation Programme. Scotland aims to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032. Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “The uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles is central to our Energy Strategy, our Climate Change Plan and our goal of making Scotland’s air quality the best in Europe.”
As in England, however, not too many of these charge points deliver high charging powers yet. In Scotland, only 200 of the 1,000 spots go up to 50 kW. In England, about 1,600 of the 9,300 locations provide ‘rapid charging’, meaning they recharge a typical EV battery to around 80% in under an hour. However, most electric vehicle owners charge at home, so the UK government recently proposed the installation of charge points for EVs in all new housing. London is an exception with residents having to park on the streets so that Transport for London has been looking to install street post chargers and similar solutions. The authorities’ latest estimate puts demand at 2,300 to 4,100 fast points and 33,700 to 47,500 slower charging points by 2025.
Back to the state of conventional fuel stations – these have become scarce in the capital. Central London has nearly half as many petrol stations per car as the Scottish Highlands; only four remain within the congestion charge zone.