Westminster City Council is installing 500 more charging points by March 2023, making the council the best-equipped EV charging area in the UK.
The move comes after the council received a large amount of external funding from central government to supply more resident charging points, with a further 500 on-street chargers to be installed throughout the rest of 2023, doubling the number available to more than 2,000.
However, analysts fear moves such as this are creating a two-speed adoption of charge points, with regions outside London in danger of being left behind. According to EV charger locator app Zap Map, Greater London currently has a whopping 31.7% of the UK’s charging points.
By contrast, government figures from July show that Northern Ireland has the least amount of publicly available charge points, with just 17 per every 100,000 people, with north-west England next-lowest at 27.
Insurance company Zurich UK believes this regional divide is having an impact on small businesses, slowing down their ability to switch to electric vehicles.
Zurich’s research claims there is just one public charge point available for every 56 SMEs. The situation is worse in some areas, for example Greater Manchester, where there is only one charger for every 237 small firms.
Essex was found to have the next lowest amount of chargers, with 203 firms competing for each charger, followed by Surrey at 169.
Will Edwards, Zurich’s head of SME, said: “SMEs have a huge and vital role to play in helping the UK reach the Government’s net zero carbon emissions target by 2050. With lower running costs and exemption from many charges that apply to combustion-engine vehicles, switching to an electric fleet should be an easy decision for SMEs. However, the shortage of charge points in many UK regions and counties could prevent SMEs from making the leap.”
He added: “Furthermore, regional disparities in access to charging infrastructure may hinder the ability of small firms to do business, or their desire to invest, in some parts of the UK. We need to see a levelling-up of public charging infrastructure, so all businesses, irrespective of where they are located, can benefit from the EV revolution and also meet sustainability targets.”
The government’s Local EV Infrastructure (LEVI) pilot scheme is seeking to change this. So far, nine councils, including Dorset and Warrington, are set to receive funding to install 1,000 charge points each.