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How Was The UK EV Charging Experience In 2021?

2021 was a remarkable year for electric vehicles in the UK as record numbers of new EVs hit the roads - but how have drivers found the charging experience and what do they want to see in the future?

ev charging experience

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) recently released 2021 UK car sales performance, revealing another great year for electric vehicles – with an 88.9% increase in the sale of pure EVs. 

There are now over 705,000 plug-in vehicles on the UK’s roads. With the country still only at the start of a clear upward growth curve, the pressure is on for nationwide charging infrastructure capable of supporting widespread adoption. 

We recently surveyed the network of EV drivers using Mer’s public chargers to get a clearer picture of their current EV charging experience, their habits and where they’d like to see development in the future. Here are some of our core findings. 

 

Nearly a third of drivers don’t have a home charger

Naturally, the majority of EV drivers carry out a large part of their charging overnight at home. However, our recent survey found that although 71.9% of respondents using Mer’s public chargers have a home charger, almost 30% don’t. 

In fact, a recent Local Government Association (LGA) study found that 6.6 million households in the UK don’t have access to off-street parking. We recently explored possible solutions for drivers looking to carry out EV charging with no driveway 

Using fast/rapid chargers via the public network would be the next logical option. And both businesses and public bodies will need to play an active role in growing this network. 

Many public bodies are now working to install EV charging infrastructure in communities. And LGA’s study went on to find that 92% of local authorities believe there is a role for local government in EV infrastructure planning and installation. To support efforts, public bodies are able to apply for government funding via the On-Street Residential Charge Scheme. They can also utilise existing public framework agreements such as the National Framework Agreement for the supply and delivery of Electrical Vehicle Charging Point and Associated Services. These frameworks aim to save time and costs on tendering processes. 

ev charging experience

And businesses too, can take advantage of the OZEV grant via The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS), a voucher-based programme offering up to £350 off the purchase and installation of an electric vehicle charge point, for a total of 40 sockets. The benefits of installing EV charge points for businesses are many, including: 

  • Improved carbon footprint and support for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR initiatives) 
  • The opportunity to attract more visitors and increase dwell time 
  • Employee retention and attraction – CSR is now a top consideration for many 

 

Landowners also stand to benefit from installing charge points: 

  • There’s an opportunity to future-proof land and stay in line with the new building regulations requiring every residential building with an associated parking space to install one EV charging point. 
  • New tenant attraction 
  • And even the chance to bring in extra income by charging a fee 

Read more about the benefits of installing EV charge points for landowners here. 

 

EV drivers would like to see the charging experience improved in several ways:

 

1. An increased availability of chargers

68.9% of those surveyed want to see the increased availability of chargers. 

According to Zap Map’s latest data there are currently 28,875 charge points across the UK, 535 of which were added in the last 30 days. 

However, the UK’s infrastructure is not maintaining pace with demand, and alongside the announcement of an increase in the sales of BEVs (battery operated vehicles) the SMMT also made clear their concerns around the UK’s inadequate charging infrastructure, finding that only one new charger was installed for every 52 new EVs registered in 2021. 

Availability of charge points also varies considerably depending on where you live in the country – with London housing over 30% of all UK charge points.

2. The ability to roam

55.1% of respondents would like the ability to use a single charge card to access and pay for charging. 

We are now finally starting to see roaming partnerships between charge point operators in the UK, which will enable drivers to sign-up to one, but access all, under a partner network – making EV charging more convenient.   

Mer is fully supportive of EV charge point ‘interoperability’ in the UK, as demonstrated by our recent roaming partnership with NewMotion and Allstar. We’re setting up more roaming partnerships and are aiming to ease driver concerns about range anxiety and ease of access. 

3. Access to faster charging speeds

49.5% of those surveyed would like to see increased access to faster charging speeds. 

With newer EVs accepting increased charging speeds, there’s a growing need to develop a network of rapid and ultra-rapid chargers for people who need quick top-ups. Read more about the development of rapid and ultra-fast charging networks here.

4. Increased vehicle range

Range anxiety used to be the top barrier to EV adoption. And although these fears have eased considerably, 28.6% of those surveyed would still like to see car batteries with increased range. 

The average car trip in the UK is only 6.8 miles (according to a CarWow study) – so most drivers needn’t be too concerned about range, given the average EV can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge. 

That being said, range is still very much a focus of manufacturers. And there’s now two models on the market capable of over 400 miles in range. The title for the longest-range EV now belongs to the Mercedes EQS with a 107.8kWh battery capable of 453 miles. 

 

Where do drivers want to see charge points positioned?

 

1. On-route to a destination

50% of those surveyed want access to chargers on-route to a destination, from a rapid charger. Most EV drivers carry out the bulk of their charging overnight at home but expect to be able to carry out quick top-ups on-route to destinations.

2. Near home or work

28.1% of those surveyed want chargers close to their home or work. Those without access to a home charger require public access nearby or at their workplace.

3. Near a shop

16.6% would like access to chargers near a shop. As mentioned, there is a clear opportunity for business owners and commercial landowners to offer an enhanced shopping experience for new and existing customers – and likely be rewarded with loyalty and increased spend. 

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