The cost of energy has risen so high that it is no longer feasible to provide free chargers for electric cars.
The number of chargers that offer free electricity has dropped from 5,715 last year to 3,568 this year, almost 40%.
In comparison to a year earlier, they now account for less than 1 in 10 public charging stations on British roads.
The Government’s plans to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles by providing convenient and cheap charging options away from home have been hit yet again with the reduction of free top-up charge spots.
Zap Map monitors charging points across the UK, and the Government uses this data to publish official statistics on the subject.
The company said that it had offered 3,568 chargers for free in late April, compared with 3,961 four-months earlier. The company offered 5,715 chargers for free a year ago.
Supermarkets and car parks installed free charging points to encourage owners of battery powered vehicles. However, wholesale electricity prices spiked in the last year due to concerns over energy security after Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.
While prices are down, the price is still more than twice what it was two years ago.
Tesco stopped providing free charging for electric cars to customers in November. The supermarket had been the UK’s largest provider of free points since 2019, having introduced them in hundreds of carparks.
End of April, the Irish electricity network ESB started charging for more than 300 charging points that were previously free in Northern Ireland.
Melanie Shufflebotham is the co-founder of Zap Map and its chief operating officer. She said, “Free charging was more common in supermarkets and parking lots to attract customers. It’s understandable that the number of charging stations is declining as electric cars become more popular. You wouldn’t expect to be able to charge your petrol vehicle for free when you go shopping.
“Rising electricity prices have led to a noticeable decrease in recent months, but there are still more than 3,500 smart EV drivers across the country who have ample opportunity to top-up at no cost.
The percentage of chargers that are free will likely be low, as many destinations want to encourage green travel. However, the number is expected to increase. The cost of charging at home or in public transport will remain lower than that of petrol and diesel.
The decline in free chargers is due to electric car owners paying more to charge their vehicles, which means that it takes longer for them to recover the costs associated with switching from petrol-powered cars.
According to the RAC the cost to charge an electric vehicle using a rapid charging station has risen from £22.81 per month in May 2022, to £35.43 per month in April of this year.
According to official figures, there were 40.150 public vehicle charging stations in the UK as of the beginning of April. This is 9,860 more than one year ago. The UK Government plans to reach 300,000 public vehicle chargers by 2030. This will be in time for the ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles. However, critics say that at this rate, it would miss its target by more than 20 years.