West Midlands overtakes London in UK’s electric car charger revolution

Region has fastest-growing network with number of electric vehicles in Coventry alone tripling in three years

The West Midlands has overtaken London as the region with the fastest-growing network of electric car chargers, thanks to a push by Coventry to rapidly move away from petrol and diesel cars.

The number of electric car chargers in the West Midlands rose by a fifth between April and July, according to data from Zap-Map and the Department for Transport. That compared with growth of 12.6% in the east of England.

London still attracted the most new charge points in absolute terms, with 309 additions, but the West Midlands, which has a much smaller population, was close behind, with 272.

The Climate Change Committee in June described improving the UK’s charging network as a priority for the government before the 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel engines. It said the government should aim for about 150,000 public charge points operating by 2025, “widely available across all regions of the UK”. However, London – with 13% of the population – still accounts for 31% of public chargers as charging companies cater for its wealthier citizens.

Ubitricity Electric Avenue project lamppost charging (Image: Siemens)

Ubitricity Electric Avenue project lamppost charging (Image: Siemens)

The UK had 24,400 public chargers in July, up from 15,000 in October 2019 when the DfT first started publishing comparable data. The chargers already outnumber the country’s 8,400 filling stations. However, the 7% quarterly growth rate between April and July would barely get the UK even a third of the way towards the CCC’s 2025 target.

Coventry has mostly used government funding to install chargers, with a quarter of the investment coming from private charge-point operators, who expect to make back their money in about seven years. It is part of a programme to embrace electric vehicles that also includes hosting the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and securing preemptive planning permission for a “gigafactory” to build electric car batteries.

Shamala Evans-Gadgil, the programme manager in Coventry city council’s transport and innovation department, said she hoped their model for improving charger networks could show the way for the rest of the country. “We know that the ban is coming. We know that the infrastructure is necessary. It can’t just be Coventry. It needs to be across the board.”

The number of electric cars registered in the city has almost tripled to more than 1,000 in the past three years as the charging infrastructure has been rolled out. During 2021, the usage of chargers has also increased rapidly, Evans-Gadgil said.

Read more: The Guardian

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