Autovolt Magazine

Electric Car Charging Available at Most Motorway Service Stations

The UK is home to an electric revolution, led in part thanks to the adoption and speed at which a rapid charge network has spread across the country.

Of the 165 individual charge points at 70 major UK service stations, 92% are equipped with rapid chargers, allowing electric car drivers to top-up their batteries in 30 minutes. Where a service station straddles the road – has sites on both sides – it has been counted as a single station.

RAC Foundation analysis shows that an electric vehicle driver will now be no more than 20 miles from a service station charge point on 98% (1,831 miles out of 1,859 miles) of the motorway system in England.

This significant finding proves that it is no longer the case that there is, “nowhere to charge”.

When the analysis is broadened out to the whole of the Strategic Road Network managed by Highways England (motorways and A road) then 82% (3,845 miles out of 4,668 miles) of the system is within 20 miles of a charge point.

Nissan e-NV200 CHAdeMO charging

Crucially, the RAC Foundation analysis has not included charge points that are not located along major arteries and so there are in fact many more charge points available, although the vast majority do not support rapid charging. There is also a small caveat with this information in that not all charge point locations support every type of rapid charge connection.

Motorways Whole strategic road network
Total length of road % of network within 20 miles of charge point Total length of road % of network within 20 miles of charge point
England 1,859 98% 4,668 82%
Scotland 270 98% 1,963 28%
Wales 83 100% 1,044 45%
GB TOTAL 2,212 98% 7,675 63%

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Electric car drivers might still struggle to drive from Land’s End to John o’ Groats but they can now travel from Southampton to Perth in a relatively straight line and be confident of being able to ‘fill up’ along the way. The growing charge point network is good news but there are important caveats.

Though many of the charge points are rapid, it will still take about 30 minutes to fully replenish a battery. This is fine if you’re first in the queue but could be a challenge if the hoped-for take up of electric cars materialises and you’re stuck at the back of a very long line.

Drivers need to know the charge point they intend to use is actually working. Previous research by the RAC Foundation suggested that at any one time a third of charge points in London were out of action.”

There are currently just over 20,000 battery-only vehicles licensed in the UK.