Plan Insurance Blog

North South Divide Hits Electric Vehicle Drivers

A freedom of information request was filed to 400 councils in the UK. It revealed “Location Discrimination” with drivers in the South of England paying close to 30% more to charge their electric vehicles than those in the North of England and Wales.

There are 21 councils across England and Wales (which includes Leeds, Bridgend and Woking) where it is 100% free to charge an EV using council-owned public chargers.

After calculating the average price of council-owned chargers in each area, it costs drivers 32p per kWh to recharge in the South, compared with just 25p per kWh for people in the North.

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What’s better: cheaper EV charging or more EV chargers?

EV Drivers in the south of England certainly have one thing going for them – access to 1,468 more on-street charging points than those living in the north. But, unfortunately, they spend considerably more to use them.

British Gas is calling this ‘location discrimination’. A full transition to EVs simply isn’t financially viable ahead of the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars for some drivers. In addition, it will cost drivers in the South over 10% more to use the cheapest council-owned chargers than drivers in the North.

There are two kinds of people: people with driveways and people without driveways

The problems associated with EV charging are particularly bad for people without driveways, and by extension, without their own charger. These people are reliant on a public charging infrastructure, which puts pressure on the government and EV technology companies.

Some believe that the need for public charging makes transitioning to an EV world unrealistic. However, data shows that those without a driveway or off-street parking are considerably less receptive to the idea of driving an EV than those with a driveway. In an increasingly strained world, this is another potential sign of a growing inequality divide.

The public doesn’t know the truth about EVs

EV companies need to convince the majority of the public that an EV world is realistic soon, not just in a futuristic-world far-away world.

Information about EVs isn’t yet abundantly clear. Many people feel like they don’t know precisely how driving and charging EVs would work practically.

EVs, like most technology, seems to divide people. At the moment there appears to be those ‘in the know’ and those who think the only kind of EV is a Tesla.

Information on public and home charging costs needs to be made more transparent to the public. Otherwise, people are liable to believe that only millionaires will be able to afford chargers and that a utopia of readily-available charging is impossible.

Most motorists have no idea about differences in charging costs, and most asked have agreed that clear information on charging costs would make the switch from fossil fuel to EVs a more practical proposition.

Where is charging the most accessible?

British Gas’ survey of England and Wales found that the West Midlands is serving their residents the best with cheap council-owned chargers. The next cheapest region is the East Midlands.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have plans for ‘government-mandated, subsidised and maintained public EV charging infrastructure’. The ChargePlace Scotland and ecarNI networks will give either free or heavily discounted charging for the region.

People are calling the differences in charging infrastructure between parts of the country a ‘postcode lottery’. The difference between areas is staggering. In the South West, the cheapest charger costs 63p per kWh. In the East of England, it costs 40p per kWh to charge.

British Gas’ data show that most people expect charging costs to be the same in the North as in the South. However, the truth is much different. The effect this will have on the country remains to be seen.

Councils need to take charge

The Government needs to continue investing money into public charging infrastructure in all regions of the UK equally to support their levelling up plans.

There are currently 21 councils that have vocally supported local EV adoption, so there will likely be a greater uptake of EVs in these areas than in councils where it is expensive to charge.

If charging doesn’t become more accessible in general, we could see a slower overall adoption rate. There will likely be large differences in EV usage in various parts of the country. Nationwide plans and policies to make charging available, cheap, simple and efficient will make a significant difference to take up rates.

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