Motorway electric car charge point target missed, says RAC

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Woman charging an electric carImage source, Getty Images

By Katy Austin

Transport correspondent, BBC News

A target for the number of high-powered electric vehicle charge points near motorways has been missed, analysis from the RAC shows.

The government wanted every motorway service station in England to have at least six rapid or ultra-rapid chargers by the end of 2023.

Data from the motoring organisation suggests that only four in 10 now meet this criteria.

The Transport Department said charging facilities are available at most sites.

Rapid or ultra-rapid devices are seen as important for making longer journeys, to ensure people are confident they will have sufficient charge for the trip and that it will delivered quickly enough if they pull over to top up.

In December, the RAC, a breakdown cover and insurance provider, looked at data from charger locator business Zapmap.

It found that 178 additional faster chargers had been installed since April.

However, only 46 of 119 sites now had six of these high-powered charging facilities in place. Rapid charge points can add about 100 miles of range to an electric vehicle (EV) in around 35 minutes.

Leicester Forest on the M1, Tebay South on the M6, and Barton Park on the A1 (M), had no charging facilities of any kind.

A government funding scheme aimed at boosting the number of ultra-rapid chargers was announced in November.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "There is undoubtedly an eagerness among charge point companies and motorway service operators to install these types of units but unfortunately, it's often the high-power cabling to the grid that's the major barrier which is out of their hands.

"More clearly needs to be done to make this process simpler than it is currently."

Reforms were announced in November's Autumn Statement, with the hope of removing barriers in the planning system and making grid connections quicker.

In September, the government confirmed that a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars would be being pushed back five years from 2030 to 2035.

However, quotas have still come into force this month requiring just over a fifth of vehicles sold to be electric.

Jonathan Goodman, UK head of Swedish EV firm Polestar, told the BBC's Today programme that the charging infrastructure was a "critical part" of getting more people to consider an electric car.

He suggested that the planning system "needs to be simplified" to accelerate the construction of new charging centres as more drivers take up electric vehicles.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport (DfT) said: "The number of public charge points is surging across the country and around 96% of motorway services now offer charging facilities for drivers.

"As well as our £70m pilot to help roll out ultra-rapid charge points on motorways, we are driving forward the biggest reforms to our electricity grid since the 1950s - halving the time it takes to build networks and speeding up connections."

They added that the DfT would collect the latest data from motorway service operators early in the New Year.

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