Electric Dreams: The UK’s Best and Worst Cities for Charging your Electric Car

By Lewis on 3rd January 2020 - View Comments

As people have become more environmentally conscious, electric cars have gained a real presence in Britain’s roads. In 2018 alone, nearly 60,000 plug-in cars had ben registered in the UK, making up 2.7% of its total new car market.

However, despite the fact that more people are buying electric cars now than ever before, there are still some barriers to them being more widely used. According to a Confused.com survey, while 61% of drivers polled said that they were bothered by long recharging times and over half were put off by the expense, the biggest portion – 72% –  were deterred by the lack of charging stations.

Whilst this isn’t entirely based in fact – after all, there are currently over 23,000 charging points across the country – analysis by Tonik Energy has discovered that some cities aren’t as well prepared for the electric revolution. Where they are might surprise you.

Their methodology was pretty simple; using data from online platform Zap-Map, Tonik compared the number of full driving license holders in each postcode area with the number of publicly available charging points. Those cities with a higher number of charging points per license holder are best prepared, and so placed better in the rankings.

From their research, they discovered that Sunderland came out on top. Though it only has 87 charging points in total, it also has just over 127,000 full license holders. This means that the amount of license holders per charger is a healthy 1,460.

Bigger areas have the largest numbers of charging points, with Greater London laying claim to almost 4,000 of them – but this only amounts to 2,227 license holders per charging point, placing them in fourth behind Milton Keynes and Dundee.

However, a look at the lower end of the table makes for some grim reading, especially for us here at WrightStart. As we’re based in Derby, we were dismayed to see that our hometown came third from last in the rankings, with only 26 charging points currently in use across the city for its 442,965 full license holders.

Spare a thought for Shrewsbury and Portsmouth, though: they were the only two places that came lower than us on the list. The former has just 11 charging points to serve almost 28,000 license holders, while Portsmouth unbelievably has only 1 charger per 32,388 license holders. This not only makes for a lot of potential queues in this coastal city, but also gives it the dubious honour of being the place in the UK that’s least prepared for the arrival of more electric vehicles.

So, what can be done to level the playing field? According to Tonik’s Managing Director Chris Russell, the answer lies with those in power. “Local councils must be prepared for the increase in the amount of EVs on our roads,” he says. “One of the main barriers to purchasing one of these vehicles is the fear of running out of charge on a long journey so it’s crucial that all councils, particularly those towards the bottom of these rankings, recognise the need to invest in publicly available charging points.”

One positive to all this is that more charging points are being installed all the time – even if this might be happening slower in some areas. “The UK charging point infrastructure is growing at a rapid rate with over 12,000 devices now on the public network,” says Melanie Shuffleboatham, director at Zap-Map.

“A record 900 new devices were added to Zap-Map last month alone; providing a great mix of on-street residential chargers, destination chargers and en-route rapid chargers – necessary to support the day to day urban driving as well as longer electric journeys.”

What’s more, councils in certain areas have already been changing their approach to electric vehicles. Take Brighton, for example; though it also featured quite low on the list of cities, with 10,391 license holders per charger, it’s already taking steps to become more prepared.

Tom Kiss, founder of the Electric Brighton initiative said: “This data has proved extremely helpful for Brighton & Hove Council, as this year they will be installing over 200 on-street lamp post chargers following their successful bid to OLEV [Office for Low Emission Vehicles] for £300,000. Lots of drivers are beginning to understand the benefits of driving an EV and are considering the switch.”

“But, it’s a big decision to make and anyone thinking about switching needs to have assurances that there will be somewhere to charge their car regularly.”

Considering that new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned in the UK from 2040, these changes seem to be coming at just the right time – and hopefully we’ll soon see more infrastructure for electric vehicles in all areas of the country.

Have you got an electric vehicle, or are you thinking of buying one? What experiences have you had with EV charging points in your city? Let us know in the comments!

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