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What Does It Mean To Have More EVs On The UK’s Roads?

Is there something stopping you from buying an electric vehicle? We challenge five EV myths that may be holding you back from buying one.

more evs on road

2021 saw 190,727 new battery-operated vehicles (BEVs) and 114,554 plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) registered – making up an 18.5% market share. More battery-operated vehicles (BEVs) were registered than the previous 5 years combined.

In addition, a further 8.9% market share was occupied by new hybrid electric vehicles (147,246 registrations). Therefore, over a quarter of new vehicles registered in the UK were electrified in some form in 2021 (SMMT data).

With the introduction of new EV factories from manufacturers like Tesla, continued expansion of the public charging network, and a push from businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, DriveElectric is forecasting we will see as many as 330,000 new BEVs registered in 2022. And with the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel sales, EVs will likely represent 50% of registrations by 2025.

But such rapid market change brings some clear challenges for the UK…


1. The need for improved public EV charging solutions

There’s an urgent need for the existing UK public electric vehicle charging network to catch-up with EV sales growth.

In fact, SMMT’s Chief Executive Mike Hawes has gone on record to emphasise the need to ‘boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets’. Given that there are currently only an average of around 16 cars to one standard on-street charger. This is problematic as more EVs on the road means we will need more EV chargers to ensure availability for all.

Mer recently carried out its own customer survey and found that almost 30% don’t have access to a home charger, and are therefore reliant on the public network. The survey also showed that 68.9% were keen to see the increased availability of chargers, with 50% wanting to see more rapid chargers available for quick on-route top-ups.

more evs on roads

With newer EVs accepting increased charging speeds, the need to negate range anxiety fears, and just generally make owning an EV more convenient for people, there’s a clear need for rapid and ultra-rapid chargers in particular.

In fact, our survey showed that 49.5% of those surveyed would like to see increased access to faster charging speeds.

Rapid / ultra-rapid charging has the potential to allow a driver to add 100+ miles in under ten minutes – not far off the time it takes to refuel with petrol and diesel. Given that the typical UK car journey is under 9 miles, this would be game changing.

Read more about the development of rapid and ultra-fast charging networks here.


2. The Grid will need to be protected

The National Grid is currently working on estimates that there will be 36 million EVs on the UKs roads by 2040. But despite concerns about its ability to cope with such pressures, efficiency improvements over the last decade mean energy demand is currently lower now than it has been in years – and it’s estimated that even if there was to be an overnight switch to EVs, the increase in overall demand would only be around 10%.

The Grid also estimates that 80% of EV drivers will be using ‘smart charging’ by 2050 – which will help balance nearly half of the new energy demands from EVs.

‘Smart charging’ utilises an internet connection to control how much energy an EV takes from the grid and when, ensuring it carries out its charging at the most optimum times – putting less pressure on the grid, and reducing the cost to the driver. Smart chargers can also facilitate dynamic load management – whereby more than one vehicle can charge at the same time within the same network, in an efficient and safe manner. They also empower fleet operators with data on which chargers are being used and by whom. Read more about smart charging here.

more evs on roads

New UK government legislation (The Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2021) will also come into play from June 30th 2022, stipulating that all new chargers installed have smart functionality – with pre-set default charging hours defined that fall outside peak hours (8-11am and 4-10pm). However, crucially, the legislation states that charge point owners will have the option to opt-out once the charger is in place, remove the default charge times and instead set their own, if/when required. Charge points sold alongside, or configured to comply with, a Demand Side Response Agreement (DSR) will also be exempt from this new legislation. DSR agreements involve an agreement between an energy user and the grid, to decrease or increase power consumption when required – helping the grid to maintain its 50Hz frequency. Public fast and rapid chargers on motorways and a-roads are also exempt.

In line with legislation, new charge points must also be capable of operating with a randomised power delay of up to 30 minutes. Such a measure will empower local authorities to protect the grid from spikes during periods of high demand.


3. Seamless roaming between charge points will need to be easier

Alongside the increase in numbers of charge points across the country, there will be growing customer expectation for an improved user experience when using them.

At present, drivers can’t seamlessly roam between different branded chargers or pay as they go with a single charge card. And our survey showed that 55.1% of drivers care about being able to use a single charge card to access and pay for charging.

Charge point operators, energy providers and manufacturers will need to work together to facilitate a better experience for drivers.

Mer are actively supporting such efforts and are already part of several roaming partnerships. The agreements mean customers can use one charge card or app to charge at thousands of charging points, easing their EV charging experience.

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