The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

Are there enough EV chargers on UK roads?

As a society we are taking climate change more seriously and making adjustments where we can to become more fuel efficient, such as installing solar panels and reducing our carbon footprint more widely. With the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars creeping closer, it’s no wonder there has been a big surge in electric vehicles (EVs) on UK roads, and there are now 1.1 million in use – that’s one in every 32 cars.

Not only are electric cars significantly more energy efficient than traditional internal combustion engine cars (85-90 per cent versus 17-21 per cent), but, once past that initial investment, they are a whole lot cheaper to run, too. The current cost of EVs may be the first prohibitor for some consumers but, second to that, the concern may be around how easy it is to get to a charging station, especially if you are embarking on a long journey.

Where should you charge an EV and how long does it take?

There are three ways you typically charge your EV: at home, at work, or on the road using public charging points. The charging points you’ll find at a motorway petrol station will typically be rapid or ultra-rapid charging points to reduce wait times.

The average EV car with a 60kWh battery should take just under eight hours to fully charge on a 7kW charging point. If charging your EV at home, users would typically charge overnight to reach full capacity. Otherwise, how long it takes depends on how powerful your charger is and on your EV’s battery, but you can charge your EV for as little as 30 minutes, according to Pod Point. There are a large amount of 350kW rapid chargers now available in the charging network, which will charge an EV significantly quicker than regular charging points. According to Zapmap, you can charge your EV to 80 per cent in as little as 15 minutes on an ultra-rapid charging point. 

James McKemey, Pod Point’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs shared that for a long journey of around 200 miles, you probably want to allocate 20 minutes to stop and charge for every four hours of driving.

How many EV charging points are there in the UK?

The UK’s EV charging network is ever-expanding and, according to Zapmap’s EV charging statistics 2023, as of March 2023 there are 40,496 EV charging points across 23,902 locations. The majority, 12,817, are in London, with 5,155 in the South East and 3,915 in Scotland.

Are enough EV chargers being installed?

There has been a 35 per cent increase in EV charging points across the UK, and an 88 per cent increase in the number of ultra-rapid EV chargers, since 2022, so we are going in the right direction, but some have their concerns the UK’s number of chargers it’s not enough to keep pace with future plans.

“While the government aims to have around 300,000 charge points in place by 2030, we are concerned that this is not going to be sufficient with drivers looking to switch to an electric vehicle ahead of the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars that year,” says RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams. 

“With the government imposing a mandate for sales of zero-emission vehicles on manufacturers, it seems logical that this should be matched by yearly targets for local authorities and charging networks to install a certain number of charge points to ensure we meet, and ideally exceed, the 300,000 number.”

James McKemey, however, believes the UK is on track towards building a healthy EV charging infrastructure by 2030: “The idea that we need to have loads of petrol-style charging isn’t quite right.” He observes that this is because EV owners can install charging points at home, which is different to the current petrol-style model. “Once you’ve got that idea of what the infrastructure is likely to look like, it starts to relieve a bit of anxiety,” he says.  

What is preventing more widespread EV charging point installation?

There seems to be clustering in areas where more people have invested in EV cars, such as London; this is where lots of chargers have been and will be installed. A spokesperson for Pod Point noted that it’s a chicken-and-egg problem, as people won’t want to buy an EV if there aren’t enough charging stations around but, with less demand, companies and local authorities won’t invest in the charging infrastructure required, leading to an uneven rollout.

James McKemey further notes that it’s better to think of 2023 as a slow transition as companies will stop selling petrol cars, rather than taking them off the road entirely. He comments that although we are delivering more charging infrastructure, we definitely still need a lot more as the sector grows.

black electric vehicle using charger on street
There is a developing cluster of public EV charging points around London, where the cars have been more readily embraced. (Image: Adobe)

What are rapid charging points and why are they important?

“We do need the really high powered [charging points] when you want to go beyond the range of your car,” says Pod Point’s James McKemey. While users generally choose to charge their EVs when staying somewhere for an extended period of time – like home, the gym or place of work – occasionally, they want the flexibility on longer journeys with higher powered charging for speed. The quicker the charge, the faster turnaround and reduced wait times at service stations.

Simon Williams, from RAC EV, states: “The development of local rapid charging hubs, which we have called for for some time, will also play a crucial role in helping the estimated one-third of drivers who can’t charge at home as they don’t have a driveway or garage. Enabling faster charging is, in many ways, the holy grail as it reduces dwell time and increases the number of people using any one charger and ultimately leads to faster journeys for drivers.”

According to a spokesperson for Pod Point, even with the current higher electricity prices, charging your car at a destination charging point using the most rapid service on the motorway, will still be cheaper than refilling your tank with petrol. 

Petrol and EV charging prices compared

Vehicle type Home charging UK slow charging services Public lamp post Motorway service station
Petrol car NA NA NA 145.69p per litre
Electric car 3p 8.29p (off-peak) – 14p per mile 14p per mile 18p per mile (rapid)

Estimated prices from Leccy, RAC and Octopus Energy. Prices correct as of 18/5/2023

How to find your closest EV charging point

There is a lot of competition between EV charging networks now, all of which offer competitive rates and incentives via apps. It’s worth downloading the apps for the top networks in order to plan out longer journeys and check which locations will be convenient. There is an increasing focus on location and companies are investing in reducing the waiting experience for consumers. Below are the UK’s biggest EV charging networks, most provide interactive maps where you can plan your journey, often using your car registration number and make to identify recommended stop times.

Charging network Number of charging points
BTpulse 8,750, 3,200 of which are ultra-rapid
Ubracity 6,500
Instacolt 1,000+
Pod Point 8,200
Tesla 1000+
Genie Point 900+
Osprey 530+, with 500 more in development
ChargePlace Scotland 94

Should you install an EV charger at home?

It’s estimated that 80 per cent of EV owners charge at home, and whether you choose to install one in an existing home will depend on your driving habits and if you have a driveway or garage. New build and self-build homes are required to have an EV charger installed to comply with Building Regulations.

While installing an EV charger may be more expensive than it used to be, as a result of the government’s grant subsidising installation ending, once past the initial investment of around £799 (without installation), you will still save money long-term by not using public charging points. Scheduling your EV to charge during off-peak hours will also be several times cheaper than peak hours or, if you have solar panels installed, you can connect them to your EV charger, which will essentially be a free source of charge.

To install a home EV charger, you need to decide whether you want a tethered or untethered connection. Tethered connections are similar to how a petrol pump works, with the cable attached to the wall, while an untethered charger means that you can take the cable with you when travelling, allowing you to utilise more public charging points with the correct connection. The location of the charger in the home will be dictated by access and space – driveways and garages are ideal – and the position can be determined by where the port is on the vehicle. EV chargers also need to be within reach of wifi to access any smart features. Finally, you want to consider the speed of the charge point itself; a typical 7kW home charger is ideal for charging most battery sizes at any point during the day.

Different suppliers, such as Octopus, offer free home EV chargers with their private lease agreements, for example, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for what’s available. 

Cam is an experienced writer and editor who has been creating content for more than 10 years. She studied English Language and Italian at The University of Manchester, where she started out blogging and copywriting on fashion and travel.

She’s worked for Groupon and its partnerships – including <em>The Guardian</em> UK and US, the <em>HuffPost</em>, and</i> – and has covered a plethora of topics, from kitchen design trends to the best ways to score a good deal on home insurance. S

Swifty tapping into her love for everything home decor-related, she moved into the interior design space and edited, part of Future plc, for three years, where she worked with a tonne of DIY and renovation experts.

She currently lives in North London and is passionate about helping others perfect their surroundings with stunning interiors and functional home additions, whether they own or rent.