UK-based charging navigation tool Zap Map has confirmed that there are now more sites on their platform than there are service stations in the UK. This is a first for British EV owners and it won’t be long before other countries reach the same milestone. But does this number actually matter?
Zap Map reports there are 8471 charging sites in the UK as of the 22nd of May. This is compared to 8400 service stations in operation at the same time, a number that is falling as combustion sales stall and petrol costs rise.
EV adoption continues to rise and investment in the sector has driven adoption forward faster than many were expecting. Electrek reported in 2017 that it would likely take until 2020 for this milestone to be reached in the UK.
Statistics for many countries are unreliable, particularly for service station numbers, but estimates suggest that very few countries are close to reaching charging/fueling parity. The US currently has approximately 7x as many service stations as public charging stations.
But how relevant is this comparison anyway?
A new paradigm
The simple fact is that charging doesn’t directly compare to fuelling. They use different resources and networks, they require different amounts of time, and EV owners’ behaviour has consistently pointed to a massive shift in where they’re being used.
Over 90% of EV charging is done at home, so public infrastructure is generally not used with the same frequency as the average service station. When it is used, however, vehicles require longer periods to receive charge.
Home charging stations are more than sufficient for the 38 km Australians drive on average each day. Long distance trips are where public stations become necessary, and the number necessary for an EV-led transport culture is still unclear as technology and behaviours change.