THE roll out of publicly available rapid electric vehicle charging points has slowed down - leading to new fears that it is a barrier to take-up of the cars.

New data has revealed that the growth in crucial rapid connectors has slipped back with 6712 in place at the end of November, last year, a rise of 1548.

It comes as the industry body confirmed that sales of EVs has overtaken diesel vehicles for the first time.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says the month of December 2022 saw battery electric vehicles (BEVs) claim their largest ever monthly market share, of 32.9%.

For 2022 as a whole, sales of electric cars rose from 190,700 to 267,000 - with their market share climbing from 11.6% to 16.6%, surpassing diesel for the first time to become the second most popular mode of vehicle after petrol. Petrol cars remain dominant among British motorists, with more than half of last year’s 1.6m newly-registered cars using the fuel. Diesels made up just a tenth of new vehicles sold to Britons.

The industry body said that the greening of the British car market is rising with a record low overall level of emissions recorded in 2022 - 111g of carbon dioxide emitted per kilometer travelled on average, a fraction of the level of only a few years ago.

But it also warned that climate change targets meant further action was needed to encourage more private buyers to go electric – and it has called for broader policies to encourage uptake of zero emission-capable vehicles during 2023.

It said that public charge point provision remains a barrier to EV uptake – and that installation rates are dropping below the totals required to meet the Government’s planned 10-fold increase by 2030.

According to data from EV mapping specialists, the rise of rapid and ultra-rapid connectors has fallen from an increase in 36% in the year to 2020 to 31.4% in 2021 and to 30% in the first 11 months of 2022. Between the end of 2016 and 2021 the total charge point network, including slower devices, is estimated to have grown four-fold from 6,500 to more than 28,000 devices.

Between 2020 and the end of 2021, 7494 charge points were added to the UK network, a growth of 36%.

But since then the annual rise has dipped to 33% in the year to November, 2022 when there were 36,752 electric vehicle charge points.

The concerns emerged two weeks after huge queues were seen at Tesla Supercharger sites across Britain over the Christmas period, with drivers forced to wait hours to charge their expensive electric cars while travelling to visit friends and family.

Video of Teslas queuing to charge at Tebay Services

The government’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy launched in March committed £1.6bn to expand the UK charging network with a view to have at least 300,000 chargepoints by 2030.

Meeting that target would need 115 new chargers to be installed every single day. The current rate is at around 24 per day.

The Scottish Government early last year launched a new public electric vehicle charging fund which seeks to attract investment from the private sector to at least double the nation's network of over 2700 charge points over four years. This fund was to provide up to £60 million to local authorities with approximately half of this funding anticipated to be invested from the private sector.

The RAC said that while EVs were on the verge of going mainstream, they remain "concerned" that rapid and ultra-rapid charging infrastructure is not keeping up with demand.

RAC electric vehicle spokesman Simon Williams said: "Recent images of queues over the festive period at public charging stations could come back to haunt ministers if this ends up stifling demand because of perceived problems with the network."

He believed that slashing VAT on public chargepoints from 20% to 5% to match that currently levied on domestic electricity would give the network a "shot in the arm in the face of rising electricity costs and would encourage operators to install more".

A Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate is due to come into force in 2024 which will compel manufacturers to ensure that a proportion of the cars they sell are fully electric.

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars is due to be banned in 2030, although some hybrids will still be allowed on the market until 2035.

Jamie Hamilton, automotive partner and head of electric vehicles at Deloitte, said that for battery electric vehicles to become truly mainstream, there was "still a way to go" for charging infrastructure to keep up with demand.

“Whilst moves are being made to do so, the charging infrastructure in the UK is fragmented and can be complicated to access.

“In terms of charge point volumes, it will be important to create charging accessibility parity between those drivers with a driveway, and those without. At that point, the practicality of switching to fully electric becomes a viable option for all.”

The Herald: Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT, speaks as SMMT and vehicle manufacturers launch a nationwide consumer campaign challenging the demonisation of diesel and moving the debate on to championing the evolution of diesel at The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo Anthony Devlin

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive (above)  said to secure growth in the car market the government must help all drivers go electric and compel others to invest more rapidly in nationwide charging infrastructure.

“Almost a quarter of new car buyers chose to go electric in 2022, inspired by a choice of more than 170 models. However, many more drivers will be wary of changing as they fear they won’t be able to access affordable, reliable charging whenever and wherever they need. What’s needed is an infrastructure network that is built ahead of demand, so all parties must play their part, including government, chargepoint and energy providers, matching the car industry’s commitment to electric motoring.”

Mark Newberry, Europcar Mobility Group UK commercial director and sustainability spokesman cautioned on assumptions that the electric vehicle trajectory would continue to accelerate.

Electric cars will no longer be exempt from vehicle excise duty from April 2025 as part of a government plan to make the motoring tax system "fairer".

Mr Newberry said its research found that over 40% of motorists surveyed did not agree with the end to the exemption of vehicle excise duty in 2025.

"Combined with the cost of living pressures this could well dampen take-up in the near future. The other challenge is that there are still so many ‘unknowns’ about electric motoring for the UK motorist. What we’re seeing at Europcar is that businesses and individuals are keen to ‘try before they buy’ to really understand what electric motoring means in real world conditions," he said.

Across the whole of 2022, while 1.61 million new cars were registered in the UK - that was the lowest level since 1992.

The Tesla Model Y was the best-selling electric car in Britain, and the third best selling car overall, behind the Nissan Qashqai and Vauxhall Corsa.

The Nissan Qashqai became the first British-built model to top the annual sales charts for 24 years.

Meanwhile, waiting times for new electric car orders have tumbled by 13.2% in the last three months, according to a new study by Motorists buying an electric vehicle in January on average can expect to wait up to 28 weeks for their car to arrive, down from 35 weeks for orders placed back in October.

Analysts this is due to an increase in production following two years of parts supply limitations that caused a log-jam of orders.

However, cost-of-living concerns are also weighing on demand as consumers delay big money purchases.