There could be more electric car chargers than petrol stations by 2020

There could be more electric car chargers than petrol stations by 2020

The number of electric car charging points in the UK could exceed the amount of petrol stations within the next four years.

That’s according to research from Nissan, which revealed there were just 8,472 fuel stations in the UK at the end of 2015 – compared to 37,539 in 1970.

If that rate of decline continues, there’ll be fewer than 7,870 petrol stations in the UK by 2020.

Public electric car chargers, meanwhile, are multiplying – with 7,900 expected by 2020.

As electric cars increase in popularity, the number of chargers available for the public to use are increasing rapidly – from a few hundred as recently as five years ago, compared to more than 4,100 today.

Nissan’s EV manager, Edward Jones, said: “As electric vehicle sales take off, the charging infrastructure is keeping pace and paving the way for convenient all-electric driving. Combine that with constant improvements in our battery performance and we believe the tipping point for mass EV uptake is upon us.

“As with similar breakthrough technologies, the adoption of electric vehicles should follow an ‘S-curve’ of demand. A gradual uptake from early adopters accelerates to a groundswell of consumers buying electric vehicles just as they would any other powertrain.”

Last month, we reported that EV chargers were about to overtake petrol stations in Scotland – with more than 550 charging points across the country, compared to fewer than 700 independent petrol stations.


I’ve spent a couple of months with the Motoring Research long-term Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and using the charging network has been a real eye-opener.

While using a public charger (often enjoying free parking in a convenient location at the same time) is so much nicer than visiting a petrol station, it’s far from being perfect.

For a start, the Government really needs to step in and regulate public charge points. They’re operated by so many different companies in different areas, actually having the correct card to use is a lottery. I’ve got around this to some extent by using Chargemaster’s Polar Plus card, at a cost of £7.85 a month (after a six-month free trial). But there are still points out there that I can’t use – annoying in a PHEV, potentially day-ruining in a fully-electric car.

The monopoly of motorway service station chargers is owned by Ecotricity. The green energy company has shown its true colours recently by hitting EV drivers with an excessive £6 fee for 30 minutes charging. Moves like that makes running electric cars almost as expensive as petrol cars – take away the incentives, and that ‘tipping point’ Nissan talks about is a long way off.

Andrew Brady

Nissan points out that the electric car charger to petrol station ratio is particularly high in London, where only four conventional fuel stations remain within the congestion charge zone. One of the country’s oldest petrol stations, the Bloomsbury Service Station, opened in 1926 and was closed in 2008.

The joint Government and car industry campaign for alternatively-fuelled vehicles, Go Ultra Low, reports that more than 115 electric cars were registered every day in the first quarter of 2016, equivalent to one every 13 minutes.

It claims electric power could be the dominant form of propulsion for all new cars sold in the UK as early as 2027 – with more than 1.3m electric cars registered each year.

Web editor at Drives a 1983 Austin Metro. Tweet me @MR_AndrewBrady.

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