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EV Charging Times - How Long You’d Have to Queue in These UK Cities to Recharge Your Motor

As the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles draws ever closer, more and more UK drivers are making the leap to fully electric cars. The recent fuel price and cost of living increases also led to a spike in searches for electric cars and EVs, with people finding out whether owning an EV will be cheaper in the long run. For example, Google Trends interest in the EV search term has risen by 48% since April 2021, spiking in March 2022 to the highest interest level ever with many looking to make the switch.

Comparing these numbers, we’ve analysed how long EV owners may have to queue at the charging stations in their city, if they all turned up to charge their cars at the same time. We’ve also noted what can be done in the time people would be queueing, and you may be surprised!

Leeds Would Have the Longest Waiting Times for EV Charging Points

Using a Tesla Model 3 as the example, which is the most popular EV on the market, on an average charge of 50 minutes each, we’ve determined that EV owners in Leeds would have the largest waiting times. Interestingly, previous Car Lease Special Offers research found that Leeds council spent the most on road issues, but could do with some more EV charging points in the next few years.

Leeds has an average of 37.2 electric vehicles per public charging point, by far the highest of the 30 UK cities we reviewed. If everyone turned up at once, the queueing time would be an eye-watering 31 hours with 50 minutes of charging time each.

This is almost double the estimated waiting time for the second-highest, with Belfast clocking in at 19 hours of waiting (22.8 EVs per charge point). The unwanted bronze medal goes to Southend-on-Sea, which would leave you waiting for 16 hours 15 mins (19.5 EVs per charge point).

Coventry Would Have the Shortest Waiting Times for EV Charging Points

On the other end of the scale, Coventry can stake the claim to being the best major UK city for catering to EV owners, as their estimated waiting time if everyone queued at once would only be 1 hour 30 minutes, with 1.8 EVs per charging point. The chances of having to queue up to charge your car in Coventry are very slim!

Sunderland also performs well in this category, with 2.9 EVs per changing point and an estimated worst-case scenario waiting time of 2 hours 25 mins. Liverpool had the third best ratio at 3.6 EVs per charge point, and a round 3 hours of waiting time.

Cities With The Shortest Potential Queues To Charge Your EV

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What Could You do in the Time You’d be Waiting?

In this painful hypothetical world of long queues at the charging points, what could you do in the same amount of time you would be waiting? Let’s take the 31 hours for Leeds as an example. In that time you could…

  • Watch 82 episodes of The Simpsons (a cool 22mins each)
  • Read 465,000 words of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (only 102,246 words to go!)
  • Run 12 half marathons (at an average of 2 hours 30 mins, fit another one in if you’re faster)
  • Attend 17 football matches (don’t forget about half time!)
  • Make 360 cups of tea
  • Complete the main story of Crash Bandicoot 5 times
  • Cook 120 of Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 meals
  • Feel the burn with 40 gym sessions (at 45 mins each)
  • Walk the dog 31 times (got to get their steps in too)
  • Finish 900 Duolingo lessons (if you fly through at 2 mins each)

How the UK Compares to Other Countries for EV Charging Points

Many Brits are once again looking into travelling and seeking out road trips in other countries, but where are the best places to visit for EV owners? We’ve taken a look into how the UK matches up to other countries for the number of public EV charge points (analysing the top 10) compared to the number of registered EVs.

South Korea has the Lowest EV to Charge Point Ratio

Of the ten countries that have the most EV charging points, South Korea has the lowest ratio of EVs to charge points, with 3.5 cars to every point. The Netherlands (5.9) and China (9.4) also have low ratios, showing that they are leading the way in the upcoming EV revolution and are much more prepared than other countries.

The UK doesn’t perform as well in this area, with 27.2 electric cars for every charge point. USA (23.4), Germany (30.8) and Norway (38.1) all have high rates too when compared to the other countries in the list.

France is a popular destination for Brits and performs slightly better than the UK with 46,045 chargers, while tourist hotspot Spain completely missed out on the top 10 list for countries with the most public EV chargers, with only 10,126 overall.

Six Tips to Save Money and Avoid EV Charger Queues

Obviously the chances of every EV owner turning up to charge their cars at the same time is less than  0.1% probability, but there are steps you can take to avoid any queues and save yourself money too.

1. Find Free Charging Points Where You Can

There are thousands of free electric vehicle charging points available in the UK, with these dotted around different locations such as supermarkets, car parks, shopping centres, and hotels. There are also some free charging points at selected service stations, but they may have a time limit on them.

Finding free charge points is important and can save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, fully charging a 60kWh EV at home costs around £15 depending on your energy prices, and with bills going up this is only likely to increase over time. Rapid public charge points, such as those at service stations, often cost around £6.50 for a 30 min (90 mile) charge. Avoid paying these costs every day by strategically finding the free points instead.

2. Know Your Surroundings: Where’s the Closest Public Charge Point?

Knowing where exactly the nearest public charger is to your location is useful, so that you aren’t wasting power by travelling around the area looking for one. Zap Map is a brilliant website that shows the location of all public EV charging points, and allows you to filter by the type of location, whether they’re free or paid, if they are 24 hours access, as well as the networks and connector types.

3. Install a Home Charger

Unfortunately, the Electric Vehicle Homecharger Scheme (EVHS) from the government ended in March 2022 for those that live in bungalows, detached, semi-detached or terraced housing. The scheme is still open for homeowners that live in flats and people in rental accommodation (flats and single-use properties).

That said, installing a 7kW Pod Point Solo 3 smart home charger costs around £899, which sounds like a large outlay but can be worth it in the long run. Smart chargers are the best option as they are internet-connected. They can communicate with your car and the grid, working out the cheapest and most energy-efficient times to charge your car. If your charger has a timer, you can set it to start and stop overnight so that it’s properly charged for the morning.

Slower chargers are available for a cheaper price if you want to save on the installation costs, with a 3kW charger costing between £250 and £500 to install.

4. Go to Public Charging Stations at Off-Peak Times

To avoid the need for queueing up at an EV charging station as outlined in our tongue-in-cheek review above, it’s best to plan what time you’re going to be visiting your local charge point. Off-peak times will naturally be a lot quieter when visiting the free locations at the likes of supermarkets and shopping centres.

Essentially, try to avoid between 7am-10am, 12pm-2pm and 4pm-7pm if you can, as these are likely to be the busiest times. 

5. Encourage Your Employer to Invest in Charge Points for Work

If you need to travel into work for an office job or the likes, your employer may not know that they can take advantage of a government grant as part of the Workpace Charging Scheme (WCS). This can cover up to 75% of the cost and a maximum of £350 for each socket, up to 40 sockets.

By encouraging your employer to partake in the scheme, you can save yourself time, stress and money by simply charging your car while you’re at work.

6. Make Sure You’re Using the Fastest Available Charger

There are a few different types of EV chargers, which are fairly self-explanatory thanks to their names. These are:

  • Rapid and Ultra Rapid
  • Fast
  • Slow

Depending on the make and model of your EV, you may also be able to use specialist chargers, such as the Tesla Superchargers, which can charge up to 150kW.

Choosing the fastest charger that is available to you is important to save you having to wait around for too long, and to avoid queues building up. Most free chargers at supermarkets and car parks are fast chargers at 7kW, but take a look on Zap Map to find the nearest rapid charger (found via the purple pin points).

This is both relevant for public and home chargers. For example, a 7kW home charger will charge your car three times faster than a three-pin plug would, allowing you to go about your day and save money on any home electricity bills. 

If you think now is the time to make the transition to an EV, why not take a look at our best Electric & Hybrid Car Leasing Deals to find the right make and model for you.

Methodology

Car Lease Special Offers reviewed Gov.uk data regarding the number of Electric Vehicle charging points in each UK city as well as the number of EVs registered in each city. We then worked out the ratio of EVs to charging points in each city, to determine the potential waiting times. These times were based on a rapid charge of a Tesla Model 3 for 50 minutes each, which is the most popular EV model in the UK.

We also used Statista and ZapMap data to review which countries have the most public EV charging points, to analyse how the UK compares to other countries worldwide in regards to being ready for the upcoming EV revolution. 


 

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