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17 Feb 2022

Which? calls for electric vehicle charging overhaul - our research reveals drivers only use public networks for 13% of charging

Which? launches its policy paper on improving EV infrastructure across the UK
Electric car charging

We're calling for a major upgrade to the UK's electric car public charging system infrastructure, as our exclusive research reveals that only 13% of electric and plug-in hybrid car charging currently happens via public chargers - but this is set to change.

Our annual car survey suggests that most of today's electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) drivers are not solely dependent on using public chargers*, but that is going to change in the future. The Competition and Market Authority (CMA) estimates there will be eight million drivers across the UK who do not have the ability to charge an EV from home.

As we approach the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 and drivers switch to electric, the number of people who'll be completely reliant on public charging will rise starkly.

This is why it's vital that access to the public charging network is improved, as well as the experience of using it.

Building an electric vehicle charging infrastructure that is fit for the future - read our new policy paper on what we want to see from the public charging infrastructure.

Three reasons why drivers are anxious about public chargers

Car charging on street

The move to electric cars is not just crucial for a net zero future - it's also a unique opportunity to transform car ownership in the UK, for those who need to own a car. This is why it's so important we get this right.

Which? research** shows three of the five most significant barriers to consumers buying an electric car relate to anxiety about charging:

  • 33% - lack of charge points on long journeys
  • 29% - concerns about a lack of charge points close to their home
  • 28% - how long it takes to recharge an electric vehicle

With so many people set to be dependent on this infrastructure, there is much work to be done.

Find out more about owning an electric car:

What should happen to improve electric car public charging?

From the number of chargers and how reliable they are, to simplifying charger access and payment methods, to creating a comprehensive redress system and addressing the needs of disabled drivers, there is much we must do to keep on improving the current charging infrastructure.

Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer protection policy, says: 'Our research shows that few electric vehicle owners currently rely on the public charging network, but this will have to change if millions of people are going to switch from petrol and diesel vehicles in the next decade.

'Improving the UK's flawed charging infrastructure will support more motorists to make the switch to a zero-emission vehicle. The current confusing and complex system needs to be quickly overhauled if the network is going to be ready for the ban on new fossil fuel cars in 2030.

'Charging must be easy, accessible and affordable if people are going to make the move to an electric car.'

'To that end, we are today publishing our first electric vehicle charging policy paper that sets out our recommendations for the future of public charging infrastructure across the UK nations.'

Our research

*Our annual car survey shows the vast majority (93%) of EV and PHEV drivers have the ability to charge their car at home using either a wall charging unit or standard three-pin socket.

15% of EV charging and 5% of PHEV charging happens using the public car charging infrastructure, or 13% overall.

The figures relating to the amount of charging using public infrastructure and percentage of those who charge at home come from the 2021 Which? Car survey; a UK survey in field from April to July 2021. 48,034 respondents told Which? about 56,853 cars they own and drive, including 2,184 EV/BEV owners and 923 PHEV owners.

**Comes from a separate Which? survey of consumers' attitudes towards electric vehicles. Fieldwork was carried out online by Yonder and data has been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).