2023: The future of EV charging

 Published 17th January 2023
General Guides  Low Emission Vehicles 

If you're thinking of leasing an electric vehicle you might still have a few lingering concerns around the UK's charging infrastructure. 2023 may be the year that dispels that last little shred of doubt. 2022 saw a lot of improvements with charging provisions not only becoming more widespread but also more sophisticated and consumer focused. This was really just the beginning. The next 12 months should see a significant upshift to the country's charging network.

What's coming for EV charging in 2023 then? Zap-Map, the UK's leading charger search and route planner for EV drivers, has taken a look at what changes are likely to arise over the coming year.

Ultra-rapid charging

This is one of the fastest expanding areas of the charging network. The total number of charging points across the UK has grown by 29% since the end of 2021. There are now almost 37,000 of them scattered around the country. Hidden amongst the figures was the fact that the number of ultra-rapid chargers available shot up by 72% in the same period. We're not mathematicians but it's pretty obvious from those numbers that most of the UK's new chargers are the ones most needed to expand the network over as wide an area as possible as quickly as possible.

Often found in ‘hubs' of six devices or more, these ultra-rapid chargers are prime examples of ‘en route' charging, when drivers want to charge their car as quickly as possible. The most significant growth has come from the speediest devices, predominantly found at charging hubs near major roads and motorways. While there are some limiting factors for this part of the network around land purchases and grid connections growth in 2023 will remain positive. Ofgem's announcement that motorway service areas and key trunk road locations will receive the cabling required to install thousands of new ultra-rapid charge points is a good example.

On-street charging

Aimed at residential streets where it may not be possible to access a home charger, these devices tend to be either slow or fast chargers rather than the ultra-rapid variety. In the first 11 months of 2022, the number of on-street chargers increased by 34%, to a total of 11,858 devices.

Installing on-street chargers is relatively straightforward as they can tap into the power supply from existing street lights. Councils and local authorities are already joining forces with on-street providers to provide drivers with alternatives to charging at home. They can also take advantage of the government's Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund, which aims to boost projects such as local EV hubs and innovative on-street charging solutions. The industry expects this part of the charging network to see the largest growth in 2023.

Community charging will bring local solutions

Community charging allows EV drivers to share their home charger with others, providing an alternative charging option for those without access to a home device.

With the number of EVs on UK roads only set to increase in 2023, this charging option could become increasingly useful for people, especially in more remote areas across the country.

As more people without off-street charging make the switch to electric, drivers will be looking for cheaper ways to charge. Community charging offers an easy solution that can also benefit the homeowner. With the typical home charging point not being used for 90% of the time, sharing a home charger can bring in additional household income and help to offset the costs of leasing an electric vehicle. A recent Zap-Map survey found that 20% of EV drivers would be prepared to share their home device, suggesting that community charging could well play an important role in the transition to electric vehicles.

Variable charging tariffs

Expect pricing for use of the public charging network to become more sophisticated over the next 12 months. On the downside, this may see the decline of free charging that was so important to encourage the EV take-up. On the plus side, charging tariffs may well be more balanced with lower costs at quieter times.

Anyone who has installed a home charger should have already looked into one of the special EV charging tariffs that offers much cheaper electricity for off-peak charging. It's likely the charging providers will do likewise and start to charge different tariffs at different times of the day. 2022 saw char.gy and GeniePoint introduce day-night tariffs and this approach is likely to spread across the network as people look for the most cost-effective charging options for their circumstances.

Smarter technology

From batteries and apps through to chargers and of course, the cars themselves, there's an awful lot of technology wrapped up in the growth of the EV. As is always the case, the longer a technology is around the more refined and efficient it becomes. While it's definitely worth keeping an eye on some of the flashier tech it's the more low-key solutions that may prove the most useful for EV drivers in 2023.

These innovations include cable guides under pavements, more smart lamppost chargers, pavement pop-up and kerb-integrated systems, and mobile charging services – all designed to make charging easier for EVs parked on residential streets. Pardon the pun, but “kerb-integrated systems” have only just begun to peak their head above the pavement. 2023 should see a rapid expansion of various solutions to ensure easy access to a charging point for as many people as possible.

Wherever you happen to live, 2023 is likely to be the year the charging infrastructure begins to catch up with the growth of the EV market. More options will become available, allowing more people to make the switch to emissions-free driving. A home charger is still your best bet for the cheapest and most convenient access to charge an EV. For those who don't have that option, the reasons that may have prevented you choosing to lease an electric vehicle up to now may be about to start disappearing.

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