The shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK has been hindered by several challenges. A lack of charging infrastructure and the inconvenience associated with charging are among the key factors discouraging potential EV buyers. However, as the ban on new fuel car sales approaches, the importance of robust charging networks becomes increasingly evident.
Here we explore the towns and cities in the UK that have made remarkable strides in providing accessible and extensive EV charging infrastructure, thereby facilitating the transition to electric mobility.
Milton Keynes emerges as a frontrunner in the EV revolution, boasting 620 public charging connectors, which places it third overall and first among towns. Considering its population of 269,460, this equates to the lowest ratio of people per connector (435) in the UK. Recognising the significance of sustaining this EV-friendly environment, an additional 250 charging points are set to be installed. To accomplish this, Milton Keynes Council secured a substantial £1.1 million grant from the Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles (OZEV), marking the largest grant of its kind.
London stands out as the city with the highest number of EV charging connectors, boasting a staggering 5,667 units. However, when considering the capital’s substantial population of 10,212,800, the ratio of people per connector is 1,802. Despite its impressive charging infrastructure, London still faces the challenge of accommodating its vast population adequately. London councils, however, have shown dedication to enhancing EV charging infrastructure, investing £204,000 in chargers in 2023, more than double the national average. Additionally, plans are underway to install 39 new chargers per 100,000 people in 2022, surpassing the national average of nine per 100,000.
Coventry emerges as the second most prepared UK area for the EV revolution. With a population of 371,520 and 601 charging connectors, the city achieves a commendable ratio of 618 people per connector. Anticipating a staggering 3,000% surge in EV usage by 2030, the Coventry council plans to install up to 400 additional charging points by 2025. Such proactive measures ensure that the growing demand for EV charging infrastructure can be met effectively.
Nottingham, with a population of 680,200 and 666 charging connectors, positions itself as a leader in sustainability. The city council has set a challenging goal to become the first carbon-neutral UK city by 2028, necessitating the replacement of all existing fuel cars with ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). Despite ULEVs constituting only 0.5% of Nottingham’s current vehicle fleet, the Go Ultra Low Nottingham initiative has received a substantial £2 million investment, aiding the development of an extensive EV charging network.
Brighton and Sunderland
Brighton secures the fourth position among the top EV-friendly areas. With 316 charging connectors and a population of 355,190, Brighton achieves a respectable ratio of 1,124 people per connector. In its pursuit of carbon neutrality by 2030, the city has installed 208 on-street EV charging points, backed by a £300,000 fund from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and an additional £100,000 from Electric Blue. To further support the adoption of EVs, plans are underway to add 12 mandatory EV charging bays to the existing 22.
Sunderland completes the top five, with a population of 1,129 people per connector. The city has already launched the UK’s first fast-charging station for EVs in 2019. Additionally, plans have been approved to construct seven new electric car charging hubs across the Northeast, including Sunderland, following a £600,000 investment.
Room for Improvement Nationwide
While certain UK towns and cities have made impressive strides in building extensive EV charging infrastructure, the overall landscape still requires further development. Southend-on-Sea emerges as the least equipped area for EVs, with a ratio of 180,435 people per EV charging connector. Other areas, such as Aldershot, Chatham, Newcastle, and Blackpool, also display limitations in charging infrastructure. Even in London, despite its substantial number of charging connectors, the city must continue expanding its charging network to cater to its dense population.
The surge in connector installations over the past decade, from none in 2011 to 3,829 in 2021, indicates promising progress. Efforts must persist to achieve the required 480,000 public charge points by 2030. By addressing the challenges related to charging infrastructure, the UK can accelerate the adoption of EVs, promoting a sustainable and greener future for transportation.