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Less than 18% of EV buyers happy to rely on public chargers

A connected EV home charge point from Ohme

Just 17.7% of potential electric vehicle (EV) buyers would consider owning a zero-emissions car if they couldn’t charge it at home, according to a new study.

Finding from the survey, conducted by What Car?, found that the majority of people would only be comfortable to make the switch to an EV if they had a home charger – highlighting ongoing fears about the suitability of the UK’s charging infrastructure.

What Car? editor Steve HuntingfordSteve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: “The lack of adequate charging infrastructure is still cited as one of the key reasons for buyers not making the switch.

“Though the rate of chargers is growing, with further investment only recently announced, more needs to be done to support the buyers looking to make the switch, especially with the 2030 and 2035 targets looming.

“This week’s Spring Budget will likely cover a lot of ground, but support for electric vehicle buyers and manufacturers, as well as the UK’s charging infrastructure, shouldn’t be left out.”

The What Car? survey found that 93.6% of existing EV drivers can charge their car at home overnight, with 84.3% owning or looking to install a wallbox charger.

When asked if they would be comfortable owning an electric car if they could only use public chargers to recharge their car, just 17.7% of electric vehicle buyers said yes.

This is a drop from August 2022, when What Car? asked the same question from 265 EV buyers, with 25.3% stating they would be comfortable owning an EV even if they could only use public chargers to cover recharging.

What Car? said the drop suggests declining confidence in the country’s public charging infrastructure, potentially a result of the ongoing energy and cost-of-living crisis which has seen tariffs rise for users.

According to the Department for Transport (DfT), as of January 2023, there were 37,055 public electric vehicle charging stations installed in the UK, of which 6,887 are classed as ‘rapid’ with speeds in excess of 25kW.

In contrast, last October saw the one millionth EV registered on UK roads, with the latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures showing electric vehicle registrations up 19.1% year-to-date in February 2023.

The car retail sector's opportunity to sell EV charge points is clear from the results of the What Car? survey.

However, it also galvanises fears that the EV market remains finite, with wealthier car buyers with an ability to access a driveway the key target for sales.

Earlier this year AM spoke to Ohme mobility director Peter McDonald for a 5 Minutes With… Q&A. In the interview McDonald highlighted the benefits of smart home charging and its role in balancing the UK's electricity demands in future.

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