Charging point availability a key demand as EV ownership soars in the UK

News Technology

More than six in 10 (64%) UK EV drivers agree that smart charging is key to encouraging further EV adoption, as speed and energy efficiency remains a key factor to improving the charging experience. These findings form part of the NewMotion EV Driver Survey 2021, the largest survey of EV drivers in Europe. The survey also found that more than half (57%) of UK drivers are worried about the lack of available charge points in the near future as EV demand continues to test Europe’s charging infrastructure capabilities. NewMotion is a leader in smart EV charging solutions and a Shell group company, who are now the largest provider of public charge points in the UK. 

Today and tomorrow’s EV Drivers

With EV adoption across Europe continuing to increase, it looks like there is no going back for current EV owners in the UK: just 4% say that their next vehicle will be petrol-or diesel-powered. 

Those drivers are switched on to the urgency of needing to adopt greener lifestyles, with 48% choosing an EV for sustainability reasons versus just 37% for financial reasons. The driving experience itself, though, is almost as important, being a top-two reason for 46% of UK drivers. 

Improving the charging experience

When asked about keeping the trend towards EV adoption going, more than a quarter (28%) of current EV drivers said better range would be the most important factor for achieving mass EV adoption, and four in 10 put it in their top three. Increased knowledge about the environmental benefits of EVs came in at second overall for UK drivers. Almost half (40%) put it in their top three, followed closely by better charge point availability (36%) With more people switching to e-mobility, it is therefore essential that charging infrastructure is installed at a rapid pace, both publicly and by businesses, to prevent people seeing this as a hurdle to EV adoption, in addition to educating consumers on the benefits of e-mobility.

In addition, after asking respondents what three changes would most improve their own charging experience, better availability of public charge points is, unsurprisingly, high on this list too, revealing a parallel between EV driver’s own experiences and their expectations towards mass adoption. This is followed by fast charging, which featured at the top of 41% of the respondents’ lists, demonstrating a clear appetite amongst existing EV drivers for shorter charge times at all locations. 

Overall, ease of use remains a key reason (34%) for choosing a particular charge point, closely followed by charging speed and the device’s cost, at 31% and 29% respectively.  

Melanie Lane, CEO of NewMotion says: “In this year’s EV Driver Survey, a new profile of EV driver has emerged. These drivers believe that e-mobility is the future, but better access to charging infrastructure remains crucial for the next stage of EV adoption. We’re pleased to see that there is a high willingness for smart charging, since this plays an important role in making the switch to electric. It was also widely recognised amongst respondents that using renewable energy is vital to reach the smarter, cleaner future for which we strive. In order to support this energy transition, NewMotion and parent company Shell are investing in extensive infrastructure at home at work and on-the-go and are working hard to provide smart charging solutions that help drivers and businesses alike manage their energy consumption.” 

Putting EV charging to work, at work

When asked where respondents have a charge point available, personal charge points dominate, with 72% of UK respondents having one installed. However, they are closely followed by on-street charging options. In addition, 80% of drivers have private parking available, yet just 72% actually do have a personal charge point, revealing that there is still scope for more home charging installation across the UK. 

For some, of course, home charging either won’t be possible or won’t be preferable. This increases the need for access to charging infrastructure elsewhere – at the workplace, retail locations, and on-the-go. Yet, according to the research, businesses across Europe still have a way to go in supporting their employees transition to e-mobility, with the need to invest in more charging infrastructure greater than ever before. Netherlands (50%) and the UK (44%) lead the way in workplace charge point availability, closely followed by France (38%) and Belgium (38%), while Germany remains the lowest at 32%. 

NewMotion and its parent company, Shell, have global ambitions to improve the access to charging infrastructure. By 2025, the companies aim to operate more than half a million charge points for businesses, fleets and at retail sites, and customer homes. In the UK, Shell has over 100 electric vehicle rapid and ultra-fast charge points on its forecourts – all running on 100% certified renewable electricity – and aims to grow this number to over 5,000 over the next four years.

Better access to on-the-go charging

Given how common having multiple cards is, with nearly half (45%) of UK EV drivers having two or more, it is not surprising that there is a huge desire among EV drivers for network interoperability. Multiple card ownership has, however, declined year-on-year – which is perhaps explained by the fact that six in 10 UK drivers say their main charge card gives them access to all of the charging locations they need. With even more interoperability agreements in the future, this should only improve further.

On-street charge points are the first choice for many for charging their EV, being used by almost half (47%) of UK drivers. Parking garages and shopping and leisure destinations are almost just as popular, with both being used by 45% of all UK drivers. The importance of encouraging interoperability across charging networks is however underlined by the fact that 62% of drivers agree that charging availability influences where they shop. As a result, businesses should think of investing in charging infrastructure to retain customers as EV adoption rises.