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Publications / Briefings and explainers

Accelerating EV charging infrastructure

Transport remains the largest source of domestic carbon emissions in the UK. The introduction of the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate has underscored a firm commitment to decarbonising road transport across the UK. However, with the climate targets of 20301 fast approaching and a projected increase of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, the buildout of charging infrastructure urgently needs to accelerate.

  • Transport is the UK’s highest emitting sector, so EVs are critical for meeting Net Zero (and wider air quality and carbon targets).
  • EV sales now make up more than 20% of the new car market,2 with sales rising as their cost continues to fall. The ZEV Mandate requires a rising percentage of ZEVs as part of new vehicle sales, with 80% of cars and 70% of vans sold required to be zero emission by 2030, and 100% by 2035.
  • Market competition for UK EV charging has rapidly increased, leading to better customer outcomes and faster delivery across the UK. However, energy network connections, planning regulations, and market certainty are all impacting the ability for the private sector to invest.
  • To meet the 2030 target of 300,000 chargepoints installed, the UK must install an average of 2,800 chargers each month, more than double the current rate.3 The Government has already missed targets of having six or more ultra-rapid chargepoints in all motorway service areas by 2024.4
  • More affluent local authorities have greater capacity to apply for available funding, leading to better EV infrastructure in higher income areas. Some local authorities have not bid for any chargepoints.5 Charging stations are also predominantly concentrated in urban areas and on major roads with higher usage rates. However, rural areas face a critical need for charging infrastructure. How local, regional, and national delivery is coordinated and resourced to unlock private investment will be a core question going forward.
  • For businesses to invest in charging infrastructure and vehicle manufacture, industry needs to know that people will adopt EVs, and they need the confidence that their investment is the right decision. Supply and demand must be addressed at the same time.
  • The Government recently moved the phase-out date for petrol and diesel vehicle sales from 2030 to 2035, resulting in industry, investor and public confusion exacerbated by misinformation about EVs.
  • The 2030 phase-out date should be restored. A firm date, alongside public engagement, will provide the market signals to sell or buy more EVs and encourage the private sector to invest in charging infrastructure.
  • The delivery of rapid charging needs to be accelerated. Coordinated delivery of chargepoints and energy grid capacity in key locations across the UK will aid the effective rollout of charging to ensure all customers have access.
  • The Future of Transport Regulatory Review mandated local authorities to create a plan for charging infrastructure but did not mandate a minimum level of installation. Setting out clear rules and resources for local authorities, and clarifying how this interacts with a national strategy, will enable faster and more efficient delivery of investment and buildout.
  • The next Government should undertake a review of the National Planning Policy Framework to streamline planning processes, for example facilitating larger, more powerful charging stands, and exploring innovative designs to support charging accessibility.
  • The UK needs to shift to a range of transport options. Not everyone buys a new car, or even has a car to begin with. Connecting areas with improved low-carbon public transport and active travel facilities is critical to ensuring an equitable and cost-effective transition, while reducing congestion and improving air quality for all.
  • Exploration is needed of options for reducing the cost of public EV charging. While fuel duty remains frozen and private charging pays only 5% VAT, public charging has 20% VAT. This creates a ‘no-driveway penalty’ between customers who can charge at home and those who rely on public charging. Aligning VAT is a simple step the next Government could take to ensure fairness and accelerate the transition to low-carbon transport.

1 Environment Agency (2024), Reaching Net Zero  
2 SMMT (2024), UK reaches million EV milestone as new car market grows
3 Current (2024), UK needs to double speed of EV charger installation, Cornwall Insight analysts find
4 Current (2024), Motorway high-power EV chargepoint target missed by over 60%
5 Fleet News (2022), DfT figures reveal disparity in regional charge point growth