According to figures released by Nissan, there are now almost 1000 more public places to charge electric cars than there are forecourts to pump petrol in the UK – 9300 EV charging locations compared with 8400 fuel stations.
There’s a little bit of spin in that EV soundbite. Some EV charging stations may only contain one or two points, whereas petrol stations offer many pumps at one location.
And although the charging locations are all “public”, only 1600 of them offer DC fast-charging of the type we’ve come to expect for pure-electric vehicles.
Still, it’s a milestone of sorts and does illustrate the rapid growth of EV infrastructure in the UK. In 2011, when the Leaf was launched there, there were only a “few hundred” charging points, says Nissan. The number has increased to over 9000 in just eight years.
The move to congestion zone charging in city centres – from which EVs are exempt – has helped drive many to plug-in vehicles.
Transport for London has installed more than 1000 EV charge points in the last year alone. Only four petrol stations remain within the London congestion-charge zone.
One of the country’s oldest forecourts, the Bloomsbury Service Station, which had been in operation since 1926, was closed in 2008.
In August 2019, compared with the previous year, demand for Battery Electric Vehicles increased 158 per cent, resulting in a 1.4 per cent market share – the highest on record.
While the volume of EVs and charging stations are increasing due to demand, the decline in the number of petrol stations is not solely due to a shift to plug-in vehicles.
Over the past few decades, the numbers of service stations have declined dramatically as the business model has shifted from small, family-owned garages that sold fuel and maintained/repaired cars, to large franchise operations that focus more on convenience store operations.
Almost 80 per cent of UK petrol stations have closed since 1970.
In New Zealand, petrol station numbers have dropped from nearly 4000 in the mid-1970s to about 1200.
According to the PlugShare website, there are over 400 EV charge sites in NZ.
ChargeNet, the country’s largest DC fast-charge provider, currently has over 150 locations nationwide.