The government is “not on track” to hit its targets for electric vehicle charging infrastructure on motorways, the RAC has claimed. The motoring organisation’s research concluded it was “unlikely” the government will be able to meet its target of having six or more rapid or ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers at every motorway service area in England by the end of 2023.

Less than a quarter (23 percent) of the 119 motorway services reviewed by the RAC on charging app Zapmap currently have the target number of chargers installed. And the RAC’s analysis found there were around 400 high-powered charging units at motorway services, with the capacity to charge 682 electric cars at a time.

As a result, there is an average of just 3.4 rapid or ultra-rapid charging points at motorway services in England. And six motorway services, including Tebay South on the M6 and Strensham South on the M5, don’t have any high-powered chargers at all.

Kia Niro EV (e-Niro) fast charging at IONITY

The government has previously pledged to accelerate the roll-out of high-powered chargers on the motorway network in its electric vehicle infrastructure strategy, published in March 2022. There, the government said: “We will ensure that every motorway service area has at least six rapid chargers by the end of 2023, with some having more than 12.”

But according to the RAC’s study, only six motorway services in England have more than 12 high-powered chargers, despite the government’s £950 million Rapid Charging Fund. These sites include Exeter (M5), Rugby (M6) and Reading (M4), among others.

Although the numbers clearly do not yet match the original ambition, the government has said in its electric vehicle infrastructure strategy: “Over 70 percent of England’s motorway service areas now have a plan to deliver [six or more rapid chargers], and we will continue to work with site operators to ensure that every site is reached.”

IONITY fast charging station

RAC EV spokesperson Simon Williams said: “Our findings show there is much work to be done before the end of the year if the government’s target of having six high-powered chargers at every motorway service area is to be met. Installing these types of units is not straightforward as connecting to the electricity grid is expensive and time-consuming, but clearly more needs to be done to make this process simpler than it is currently.

“While we understand the government is taking steps to expedite matters, the importance of ensuring sufficient high-powered charging is readily available up and down our motorway network can’t be emphasised enough. As a lack of charging facilities is rapidly becoming one of the most widely quoted reasons for drivers not going electric, all parties involved in making installations happen must work together to overcome this obstacle.”