Less than a fifth of all UK electric vehicle (EV) buyers would be comfortable relying solely on public charging points, according to new research. A study by consumer car magazine What Car? found there’s decreasing confidence in the UK’s public charging network as the number of EVs on the road increases.

What Car?’s survey of more than 1,200 “in-market” buyers revealed the vast majority of those in the market for an electric car would charge their vehicle at home overnight. Indeed, 84.3 percent of those questioned said they already owned a ‘wallbox’ home charger or were looking to install one.

But when asked whether they would be comfortable owning an electric car if they could only use public charging points to recharge their vehicle, just 17.7 percent said ‘yes’. According to What Car? that’s a reduction compared with August 2022, when the magazine last asked electric car buyers the same question. Back then, more than a quarter said they would still be comfortable owning an electric car if they could only use public chargers.

Electric car charging

At the same time, What Car? also asked buyers who were not in the market for an EV why they were not considering switching to electric. Nearly half (47 percent) said EVs were too expensive to consider, while 41.6 percent said the public charging network was not good enough for their needs. A lack of ability to charge at home was quoted by 23.5 percent of respondents, while 16 percent said EVs lacked the range they needed.

According to figures from the Department for Transport, there were 37,055 public electric vehicle charging stations installed in the UK as of January 2023. Of those, 6,887 were classed as ‘rapid’ with speeds in excess of 25kW. But last October saw the millionth EV registered on UK roads, with the latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures showing electric vehicle registrations up 19.1 percent during the first two months of 2023.

“The lack of adequate charging infrastructure is still cited as one of the key reasons for buyers not making the switch,” said Steve Huntingford, the editor of What Car?. “Though the rate of chargers is growing, with further investment only recently announced, more needs to be done to support the buyers looking to make the switch, especially with the 2030 and 2035 targets looming. This week’s Spring Budget will likely cover a lot of ground, but support for electric vehicle buyers and manufacturers, as well as the UK’s charging infrastructure, shouldn’t be left out.”

Nissan Leaf charging in London