EV charging stations: best and worst UK cities for charging your car

Research by Tonik Energy reveals the best and worst places to find EV charging stations in the UK

The best and worst places in the UK to find EV charging stations have been revealed by green energy provider Tonik Energy.

The firm compared the number of driving licence holders in dozens of towns and cities in Britain against the number of EV charging stations listed in those locations by Zap Map.

It found that Sunderland is the best-equipped area in the country, with an electric-car charging point for every 1,460 licence holders.

Sunderland was closely followed by Milton Keynes, with 220 charging points for its 327,225 licensed drivers, with Dundee securing third place overall with a total of 98 charging points.

At the other end of the table, Portsmouth is by far the worst prepared city with just 16 public chargers serving 516,602 licensed drivers. Shrewsbury was second-worst with a single charging point for every 20,698 drivers, followed by Derby with 17,037 licence holders per public charger.

“With the cost of electric vehicles falling all the time and the rise in UK residents wanting to make their lives as ethical and eco-friendly as possible, we are already noticing a significant rise in attention towards EVs,” said Chris Russell, managing director at Tonik Energy. “Given the estimation that the cost of running an EV will match that of a standard car in the next couple of years, we only envisage demand to rise further.

“Local councils must be prepared for the increase in the amount of EVs on our roads. One of the main barriers to purchasing one of these vehicles is the fear of running out of charge on a long journey so it’s crucial that all councils, particularly those towards the bottom of these rankings, recognise the need to invest in publicly available charging points.”

In January, a study by Deloitte said electric cars could become cheaper than petrol and diesel models in the next two years. It was followed by a report from the International Council of Clean Transport (ICCT) that suggested electric vehicles were already cheaper to own than internal combustion-engined alternatives.

"The UK charging point infrastructure is growing at a rapid rate with over 12,000 devices now on the public network,” said Melanie Shufflebotham, director at Zap Map. “Whilst some cities such as Sunderland, Milton Keynes and Dundee have really embraced the shift to zero emission cars, there is still some work to be done in other locations to provide electric car drivers with the charging infrastructure they need."

EV charging stations are becoming more and more common in the UK: the 350kW Shell-IONITY network is expected to add around 40 locations on these shores by 2020, while Gridserve has announced plans for 100 ‘Electric Forecourts’ across the country delivering charging speeds of up to 500kW.

The UK’s first 350kW rapid charger was opened earlier this month by Dutch company Fastned, based near the Nissan Leaf factory in Sunderland.

UK charging stations: top ten

City Total licence holders Charging points Licence holders per charger
Sunderland 127,015 87 1,460
Milton Keynes 327,225 220 1,487
Dundee 160,239 98 1,635
Greater London 6,893,909 3,096 2,227
Manchester 578,418 205 2,822
Oxford 390,923 108 3,620
Leeds 414,505 111 3,734
Cambridge 263,858 59 4,472
Nottingham 657,031 141 4,660
Glasgow 624,975 130 4,808

UK charging stations: bottom ten


City Total licence holders Charging points Licence holders per charger
Exeter 371,450 35 10,613
Birmingham 999,136 84 11,894
Gloucester 407,494 29 14,052
Hull 242,826 17 14,284
Sheffield 742,296 51 14,555
Cardiff 573,266 35 16,379
Stoke 391,007 23 17,000
Derby 442,965 26 17,037
Shrewsbury 227,681 11 20,698
Portsmouth 516,602 16 32,288