Drivers face long queues from slow ultra-rapid charger rollout

The UK needs way more ultra-rapid chargers

Car charging

It’s the technology we depend on, but drivers in the UK face long queues for public chargers unless the rollout of ultra-rapids picks up pace considerably.

Last year, only 1 in 4 public chargers installed were the ultra-rapid variety, with 3 in 4 chargers installed the fast variety (below 43kW).

“Fast” charge speeds are a red herring because they don’t deliver enough power to charge the large battery packs in electric vehicles in a reasonable space of time.

For example, a 22kW charger adds 60 miles of range per hour, topping up the 50kWh battery in a Corsa-e in 7 hours. Even at 43kW, a fast charger takes over three hours to deliver 50kWh.

Clearly, this is incompatible with e-mobility.

In comparison, ultra-rapid chargers over 100kW top up most electric cars with 400V architecture from 0-80% in as little as 30 minutes, while 800v vehicles charge to 80% in as little as 18 minutes.

Ultra-rapids, also known as level 3 chargers, are commonplace at charging hubs and motorway services, but not on streets and in supermarkets.

Ultra-rapid charge times are ideal for topping up on the move because they significantly increase the number of vehicles that can top up in a day, but only a quarter of new charger installations support them.

This clearly has to change. It is not good enough that 3 in 4 chargers installed are the older “fast” charging technology.

People with no driveway are at the biggest risk of being left behind because they depend on public chargers for electricity.

As the UK adopts electric vehicles, public charging infrastructure is at risk of being overwhelmed by the lack of ultra-rapid chargers.

Last year, public charger numbers jumped by 7,600, but if only 25% are ultra-rapid then drivers face queues at the charger and especially in areas that are highly built up. Things have to change, and rapidly.

James Lewis is our resident electrical head. He drives an MG ZS EV (2018, which he loves) and plans to get the new one soon. James is much more excited by the lower end of the EV market and is looking forward to the Ora Cat.