The rollout of electric vehicle chargepoints must become five times quicker to support the forthcoming ban on new petrol and diesel cars, according to new research.
Think tank Policy Exchange urged the Government to avoid “charging blackspots” in small towns and rural areas.
It published a report saying that the UK will need 400,000 public chargepoints when the sale of new conventionally-fuelled cars and vans is set to be prohibited in 2030, up from 35,000 currently.
To reach this total, the annual rate at which new chargepoints are being installed must increase from around 7,000 over the past three years to 35,000 over the next decade.
Researchers recommended that the Government should issue contracts to private firms to install chargepoints in areas where they are sparse.
This would mark a switch from the existing policy of offering grants, and would be similar to offshore wind farm auctions.
Under the proposal, a price cap would be introduced for chargepoints that received Government support, to avoid operators exploiting local monopolies.
The report called for local authorities to be given Department for Transport funding for dedicated teams tasked with boosting rollout in residential areas.
It also urged ministers to make improvements to the charging experience, so it is better than refuelling petrol or diesel vehicles.
This would include the development of an app to allow drivers to find chargepoints and pay for the electricity.
In the foreword to the report, Simon Clarke, a Conservative MP and former minister for regional growth and local government, wrote: “Whereas a driver of a petrol car can travel confidently from Land’s End to John O’Groats, knowing that they can refill the tank every few miles, that is not yet the case for EVs (electric vehicles).
“Some areas have naturally built up impressive coverage, such as central London, but vast swathes of the country have not.
“This important report sets out a way to meet the challenge.”
Report author and Policy Exchange senior research fellow Ed Birkett said the Government should focus on areas where it “isn’t delivering enough public chargepoints, including the north west of England, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland”.
He went on: “Companies are rolling out chargepoints at a record rate, but there’s a risk that some areas of the country won’t get enough chargepoints and will be left behind.
“We’re concerned about patchy deployment of chargepoints, which runs against the Government’s plans for levelling up and a strong and connected Union.”
AA president Edmund King commented: “A comprehensive, contactless, reliable, affordable, simple-to-use charging infrastructure is essential to encourage consumers to take up EVs.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted the UK’s charging network is “world-leading”, adding: “From Cumbria to Cornwall, drivers across the country should benefit from the electric vehicle revolution we’re seeing right now.”
He announced a further £20 million of funding for local authorities to install 4,000 more on-street chargepoints across the UK.
These will allow residents without access to off-street parking to charge their vehicles.
In November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought forward the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2030 as part of his “green industrial revolution”.
He also pledged to pump £1.3 billion towards charging infrastructure over the next four years.
Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows battery electric models took 17% of the new car market in 2020, up from 3% during the previous 12 months.