Government could miss motorway services EV charger target by end of 2023, says RAC

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The Government is unlikely to meet its target of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023, according to new research by the RAC.

Only 27 of 119 motorway services reviewed by the RAC (23%) on ZapMap currently have the target number of chargers to serve the UK’s estimated 760,000 battery electric vehicles.

The RAC’s research found there are around 400 high-powered charging units situated at motorway services capable of charging 682 electric cars at one time. This means there is currently an average of just 3.4 rapid or ultra-rapid chargers at motorway services.

Six motorway services in England don’t have any high-powered chargers. These are Leicester Forest on both sides of the M1, Tebay South on the M6, Carlisle Northbound on the M1, Strensham Southbound on the M5 and Barton Park on the A1(M).

However, Gridserve, the leading motorway service area charge point provider, said the report was “premature”, adding: “Gridserve is laser focussed on delivering six or more high power chargers at all Moto and Roadchef locations by the end of the year.”

The company added in a statement: “This is not straightforward, and there are issues outside of our control, particularly relating to the timeframes for energising new grid connections. However, we have the funding, the supply chains, the partnerships, and the expert teams all in-place to meet Gridserve’s contribution to delivering the Governments 2023 target.”

The company said it had already delivered more than 70% of the high power electric super hubs identified in the RAC report. “Given we are less than halfway through the year, and we have considerable momentum with dozens of additional sites in and entering construction over the next few months, at least from Griderve’s perspective, we would suggest that the RAC report is a little premature.”

The Government’s ‘Taking charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy’ published in March 2022 set out an intention to accelerate the roll-out of high-powered chargers on the strategic road network through the £950m Rapid Charging Fund.

The document explicitly states: “We will ensure that every motorway service area has at least six rapid chargers by the end of 2023, with some having more than 12.” Currently, there are only six services in England which have more than 12 such devices.

Latest charging statistics from Zapmap show the UK has 42,566 charging devices of which a fifth (19% or 7,928) are rapid or ultra-rapid. But only 5% of all these high-powered chargers are at motorways services. The Government says it expects there will be around 300,000 public chargers of all speeds as a minimum by 2030 and more than 6,000 high powered chargers along strategic roads by 2035.

Forecasts in the Competition and Markets Authority’s ‘Building a comprehensive and competitive electric vehicle charging sector that works for all drivers’ suggest that at least 280,000-480,000 public charge points will be needed by 2030.

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Our findings show there is much work to be done before the end of the year if the Government’s target of having six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area is to be met. Installing these types of units is not straightforward as connecting to the electricity grid is expensive and time-consuming, but clearly more needs to be done to make this process simpler than it is currently.”