The rate of adoption of electric vehicles continued to increase in 2021. As reported in the Guardian in early December, vehicles capable of being zero emission accounted for 28% of all new cars registered in November 2021. Electric vehicles accounted for almost 22,000 new vehicles more than double the number of electric vehicles sold in November 2020. This increase is illustrative of the increasing consumer confidence and interest in zero emission cars. No doubt helped by an increasing awareness of our environment brought on by the Covid pandemic and by events such as the fuel shortage witnessed earlier this year.
Whilst the increasing proportion of electric vehicles on the UK’s roads during 2020 and 2021 is good news. The rate of deployment of charging infrastructure during 2021 is such that the number of cars sharing an on street charger has increased rather than decreased compared to 2019. This increase against a backdrop where electric and hybrid cars account for 2% of cars in the UK. There is still a significant way to go before the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure is sufficient to support a transport system in which the sale of new internal combustion engine cars is banned in 2030.
In particular, the deployment of residential on street charging infrastructure remains slow and significantly less than that required to support the mass adoption of battery electric vehicles that is required to enable the UK to meet its Net Zero objective. For those members of the public that do not have private off street parking (particularly relevant to people living in town and city centres) the lack of access to charging infrastructure is more than a factor against adoption of electric vehicles but an absolute barrier.
2022 will need to see the issue of residential on street charging start to be tackled in a more meaningful and coherent way. Local authorities will need to engage with other stakeholders in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure sector such as Liberty Charge and Char.gy to ensure that the roll out of on street charging infrastructure is scaled up sufficiently and is delivered in a manner which does not create a new kind of fuel poverty.
It also remains to be seen the dampening effect that the UK Government’s changes to the plug in grant introduced without warning in mid-December 2021 has on the take up of electric vehicles in 2022.