Motorway road traffic night

Source: GroupNexus

Grid infrastructure a factor is restricting motorway services chargepoint target

The government has “fallen well short” of its ambition of every motorway services in England offering six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers by the end of 2023, new analysis shows.

Just 46 of 119 motorway services (39%) meet the target for chargers above 50kW, according to RAC analysis of data from charger locator Zapmap from 21 December 2023. That is an increase from 27 (23%) at the end of April.

Four service areas – Leicester Forest on both sides of the M1, Tebay South on the M6 and Barton Park on the A1(M) – have no charging facilities whatsoever. And 18 locations have no rapid charging above 50kW.

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams blames grid infrastructure for the slow progress: “It’s clear from our research that the government has fallen well short of its target of having six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area in England,” he said.

“There is undoubtedly an eagerness among chargepoint 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. Hopefully once the Government’s Rapid Charging Fund kicks fully into action some of these hurdles will be overcome.”

The RAC says some progress has been made since a previous survey at the end of April. There are now more than 400 ultra-rapid chargers at services, and 70% of all high-power motorway charging is now ultra-rapid.

The Department for Transport’s target of every services having at least six rapid chargers above 50kW by the end of 2023, with some having more than 12, is set out in its ‘Taking charge: the electric vehicle infrastructure strategy’ published on 25 March 2022. Its intention was to accelerate the roll-out of high-powered chargers on the strategic road network through the £950m Rapid Charging Fund so that electric vehicle drivers have confidence to undertake longer journeys. However, it was only in early December last year that the Government announced it would be providing £70m in grants for a pilot scheme to upgrade equipment at 10 motorway service stations.

The DfT says: ”The number of public chargepoints 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 chargepoints 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.”