The slow rollout of electric car charging points in the UK will “hinder” the growth in electric vehicle (EV) sales, the RAC has warned. The motoring organisation says a lack of rapid charge points may put off some drivers who would switch to an electric car but cannot charge the vehicle at home.

According to RAC data analysis, the number of public electric vehicle chargers rose by 7,600 last year – an increase of 37 percent – bringing the total to just over 28,000. However, the RAC says less than a fifth (17 percent) of new chargers installed last year were either ‘rapid’ or ‘ultra-rapid’ devices that can charge at 25 kW or more.

At the start of February, the RAC said just over 5,000 (18 percent) of the UK’s chargers were rapid or ultra-rapid chargers, meaning most drivers have to rely on the sub-25 kW chargers, of which there are almost 24,000. Moreover, the RAC says the number of faster chargers installed relative to other charging points has fallen by one percent.

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The RAC says having sufficient rapid and ultra-rapid chargers – particularly those in service station-style charging hubs – is a crucial part of allowing electric car drivers to make longer trips. However, the organisation also reckons registrations of electric vehicles are now outpacing the introduction of new charge points. There are now 77 battery-electric vehicles for every one rapid and ultra-rapid charger, up from 42 vehicles per charger two years earlier.

“Without question it’s encouraging to see that last year, more new public chargers for electric cars were installed than ever before as drivers increasingly consider switching out of petrol or diesel-powered models,” said the RAC’s director of electric vehicles, Sarah Winward-Kotecha. “Between October and December alone nearly 2,500 were put in, which is the highest ever number fitted in any three-month period.

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“Having enough public chargers is vital to encouraging the mass take-up of electric cars, but that’s only one part of the jigsaw – the speed of these chargers is also extremely important. The greater the number of truly rapid chargers, the easier charging becomes on longer trips and the more often charging spaces can be turned over and used by other drivers. From a convenience perspective, having the fastest possible public chargers available to drivers really is a win-win charging experience – providing they are priced fairly.

“These latest figures show we still have a long way to go. The number of public chargers isn’t keeping pace with the volume of new electric cars coming onto the road, and only a minority of devices being installed are rapid or ultra-rapid. This creates a real problem for motorists who rely on the public network because they can’t charge at home. Of course, slower chargers have a place as part of the country’s developing EV infrastructure but getting many more drivers to opt for an electric car might depend on there being a marked step up in terms of the number of faster chargers going in."