SCOTLAND is on the "cusp of a motoring revolution" after it emerged the use of electric vehicle charge points has soared in a year.

But despite the upsurge, figures released by transport charity the RAC Foundation also show that almost a quarter of the charging fixtures went unused.

The top ten charge points by usage were all rapid chargers and accounted for 13 per cent of all charging sessions in August 2017 – the month where the figures were collected. Eight of the top ten charge points – including the top three – were in Dundee.

The use of electric vehicle charge points in Scotland has increased by 43 per cent in a year. Charge points across the country were used 37,433 times during August 2017, compared with 26,119 times in the same month a year earlier.

The bulk of the charge points in the ChargePlace Scotland network are publicly accessible though some are located on private commercial premises and will have limited public availability.

The Committee for Climate Change suggests that at least five per cent of the car fleet in Scotland should be electric by 2020 in order to reach ‘critical mass’ for a larger roll out - this would mean a total of approximately 120,000 electric vehicles with 27,000 new car sales of electric vehicles a year in 20201.

At the end of June, the number of licensed vehicles in Scotland which were eligible to receive the plugin car and van grant was 5,521.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Scotland may be on the cusp of a motoring revolution, but step-changes in electric vehicle technology must be matched by equally big strides in recharging infrastructure.

“It is pleasing to see the use rapid chargers are getting. But the stubbornly high number of charge points that get little or no use shows that we still need to think not just about the total amount of charging infrastructure but what type it is and where it is located.

“Few of the owners of Scotland’s 2.8 million cars and vans think twice about the process of refuelling with petrol or diesel: pull onto a forecourt, flip the filler cap, insert the nozzle and a couple of minutes later the job’s done. Only when we get close to the same ease of use for electric cars will we truly enable a mass market for them.”

In August 2017, the mean charge duration was four hours and 12 minutes and there was an average of 43 charging sessions at every used charge point across the network that month.

Rapid chargers made up 16 per cent of chargers but were used for almost half (49 per cent) of all charging sessions.

The total number of charge points across the country also increased over the 12-month period.

Meanwhile, Toyota plans to offer more than 10 purely electric vehicle models in its range by the early 2020s, marking the Japanese car-maker's commitment to that growing technology sector.

Toyota currently offers no purely electric vehicles, although it is the leader in hybrid models, which switch between an electric motor and a gas engine.

Executive vice president Shigeki Terashi said on Monday that Toyota's EVs will be first offered in China, a country that is encouraging electric vehicles with subsidies and other policies, and is expected to drive massive growth in that technology.

Mr Terashi said Toyota's EVs will later also be offered in Japan, India, the US and Europe.

The company said that, by about 2025, every model it sells will have some kind of "electrified" version, such as hybrid, electric or fuel-cell.

Last week, Toyota announced that it will set up a joint auto battery business with Japanese electronics maker Panasonic.

Mr Terashi stressed the deal with Panasonic is "a crucial piece" in Toyota's strategy, and that it wanted to promote a Japanese partnership.

Advances in battery technology are vital for the success of EVs. A major shift toward their use would require more use and recycling of the rare and expensive materials used in batteries, such as lithium.

Toyota announced other goals on green vehicles. By about 2030, it hopes to sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles a year. Toyota sells about 10 million vehicles globally a year.

The company said it will invest 1.5 trillion yen (£10 billion) to realise its 2030 goal, more than half of it on making batteries.

Other carmakers, including Nissan, Volkswagen and Honda, offer or are working on electric vehicles. That means competition among battery makers is heating up. It is unclear whether Panasonic will emerge the victor in the race.

Toyota has generally sought to develop key technologies in-house, rather than purchasing them from outsiders. That includes knowhow for computer chips and robotics, which are also expected to be pillars of growth for the auto sector in coming years.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research with IAMRoadsmart said: “We welcome the steady growth in charging points. They are an essential requirement if we are ever to deliver the step change in electric cars needed to replace the internal combustion engine. Overall electric cars make up a tiny proportion of the market.

"It looks like the key next steps are to increase the number of rapid chargers and to investigate wider incentives. In Norway electric car use had taken of due to a range of policies designed to reward electric car users. These include using bus only lanes and cheaper parking. Clearly we have made a start in Scotland but there is still a long way to go.”