UK is already behind targets for electric car infrastructure – IMI

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has issued a damning report on the UK's readiness for electric cars.

electric car charging on the road

A new report has warned that the UK is seriously behind schedule on delivering its targets to reduce the country’s illegal levels of air pollution.

New analysis by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has found that the UK doesn’t have enough public charging points to cater for the electric vehicles that are currently on the road, and doesn’t have enough trained mechanics to service electric cars.

The IMI found that London is the only city to be on course to hit targets, as the capital has a wider availability of public charging points.

The IMI’s report comes as environmental experts warn that the sale of petrol and diesel cars should be halted before the current UK target of 2040 to ensure the road network is “decarbonised” by the year 2050.

Currently the average across the country is eight electric cars for each charging point, which the IMI said is well short of where the country needs to be.

The report also stated that only 3% of all mechanics are fully qualified to work safely on electric cars, most of whom work in the franchised dealerships of electric car manufacturers.

The IMI said that there are “serious gaps in the infrastructure to support these targets” and that the UK now faces a “race to catch up with demand after failing so far to deliver a sustainable infrastructure” for electric vehicles.

With the sales of diesel cars declining and new registrations of electric and hybrid cars at record levels, it is estimated that there will be over 1 million low emission cars on UK roads by 2020.

However, there are currently just 18,000 public charging points at 6,500 different locations across the country. This has led to growing concerns that the shortfall of public charging points will not be able to support the burgeoning number of electric cars entering the UK market.

VW Group, the world’s biggest car maker, has announced that it plans to launch a new electric vehicle model every month from 2022 and 20% of its new vehicles will be zero-emission models by 2021.

The motor industry is clearly moving rapidly towards a zero-emissions future, but the UK’s infrastructure is currently well behind.

The IMI has called on the government to invest more money in order to cope with the increasing number of electric cars on the roads. It also said that ministers should focus their attention on the sustainability of businesses servicing and repairing the new generation of electric cars, warning there will be “a serious shortfall in adequately trained technicians” when electrified cars become more mainstream.

This problem is set to be exacerbated further when existing electric cars enter the used car market more frequently, and second-hand buyers look to more affordable local garages for repairs and maintenance rather than relying on dealerships.

Steve Nash, Chief Executive at the IMI, said:

“The recently published sales figures for electric and hybrid vehicles demonstrate that drivers are rapidly making the transition away from pure petrol and diesel engines.

However it’s vital that government recognises the new skills requirements needed to underpin the successful move to this new technology – which is entirely different to the skills required to service and repair internal combustion engines.

“Without appropriate training vehicle technicians are at risk of serious harm or even death and employers may be in breach of Health and Safety regulations.

“Government must incentivise and support businesses to invest in the training of their staff if they are to have the knowledge and skills to safely work on or around high voltage vehicle systems and technology.”