Two-Thirds Of London’s Electric Car Charging Points Go Unused

FEB 14 2015 BY MARK KANE 25

Source London charging points map

Source London charging points map

RAC Foundation recently looked back at the problem of low usage of charging points in the Source London network.

Electric car sales in UK are growing and upon first look at charging sessions on Source London there appears to be usage growth too – for example, from 2,243 charging sessions in June 2013 to 4,678 in June 2014.

But at 905 points with total 1,410 “sockets,” average usage is stillvery low.

However, RAC Foundation found that in June 2014 just 324 points were used (36%), while 581 never saw an EV for the whole month! 504 of them were not used in June 2013 and in June 2014.

We don’t have access to the full data, but we believe other months had similar results.

Interesting is that one of the charging points recorded in June 2014 302 charging sessions – so 10 a day!

Anyways, it sounds like Source London is having some serious problems in attracting electric cars for charging.  Meanwhile, there are already further plans to expand the number of charging points to 5,500 in three years.

“Many of London’s electric car charging units are going unused from month to month, official data suggests.

Figures for June 2014 show that of the 905 units across the capital, only 324 were used (36%). The remaining 581 were not plugged into at all.

By way of comparison, in June 2013 there were 892 charging units in London and during that month a quarter (24.3%) were used.

The data shows that there were 504 units which went unused in both June 2013 and June 2014.

However in June 2014 there were a total of 4,678 charging sessions, more than double the 2,243 figure a year earlier. This reflects the quickening take up of electric cars of which there are now about 16,000 in Great Britain.

The RAC Foundation analysed data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from Transport for London (TfL). Until September 2014 TfL operated the Source London network of electric charging points in the capital. Since then it has been operated by the Bollore Group.

The analysis also shows that 80% of all charging takes place in inner London even though only 46% of the charging network is in this area.

The most heavily used charging unit was at Victoria Station. It recorded 302 charging sessions in June 2014.

This was followed by two units in Hinde Street, W1 (114 and 113 charging sessions respectively).

In the same month the average length of charging session across all units in London was five hours and 35 minutes.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The encouraging news is that electric car sales in the UK are at last showing signs of improvement, but we still have a charging network that is running far from capacity.

“The Mayor of London has committed to rolling out another 4,500 charging points over the next three years, on the way to meeting his ultimate target of 25,000, yet official data shows the bulk of the units we already have are significantly underused.

“One reason for this could be the large number of units that appear broken. The Source London website suggests around a third of charge points are out of service, so you couldn’t charge your car from them even if you wanted to. Before we splurge money on more units we must ensure the existing network is fully operational and accessible.

“Hopefully our analysis will give an indication of where further money should be spent and where extra infrastructure might be needed.”

It should be noted that many units have more than one socket as in June 2014 there were 1,410 sockets recorded in London.

Half (49.5%) of the Source London network of charging units are in off-street locations such as NCP and supermarket car parks.”

Source: RAC Foundation

Categories: Charging


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25 Comments on "Two-Thirds Of London’s Electric Car Charging Points Go Unused"

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Unfortunately, this doesn’t provide the data needed for useful analysis. Is the low usage at some chargers due to an inconvenient location, or an awkward placement of the charging stall? Are some chargers in “a bad part of town”? Or is the low usage at some chargers due more to low current of the charger… the UK equivalent of a level 1 charger vs. level 2?

This seems low usage “581 were not plugged into at all” for a whole month.

Quite separately, it is a mistake to think that EVSEs should be used all the time.

In popular places like malls I think it is ideal to install then in groups so that there is almost always at least one available.

Has anyone checked to see if the unused ones actually work.

There is an article on chargedevs that claims 40% of Londons EVSEs don’t work. If you factor that in the percent of working systems that are used is pretty high.

And importantly…is the rates charged ridiculously high where you are paying more for energy than a ICE car?

The London ones are ‘free’ (£10/year) to use… for now. The whole she-bang has been taken over by a company called Bollore (doing interesting things with EVs in France) who are promising wonderfulness like being able to book a charge via smartphone etc but I’m guessing there will soon be a significant cost increase. Good luck to them – if they provide a decent service, I don;t see why they shouldn’t make money out of it and Lord knows EVs need some help.

Doesn’t surprise me at all.
Most will be L2 at best, which is only of use as destination charging. Which then means that the EVSE has to be somewhere that you can leave your car for more than an hour or two.
So Malls, shopping centers, movies etc. Sticking them outside a pharmacy is pointless, especially when you charge with a one hour minimum.
How many of those installed are anywhere near that criteria?

Limies just need to buy more EVs. 😉


That’s sails age description.

You know, when people final understood that fruits are important part of diet for sailors.

UK resolved logistical problem (months long voyage without access to fresh fruits), but suppling citrus fruits.

Hence limies.

I’m willing to bet a combination of one or more of the following contributes to those stations not being used:

-Constantly ICE’d
-L2 units located in areas that nobody wants to spend hours charging because they aren’t next to anything useful.
-Ridiculously high price to use.

Old data are old. Sales of EVs had just started mid last year to gain steam in UK, so it will be look very different very soon, if the charging points are useable at all.

I wouldn’t say the system’s usage going up from 2000 to 4000 charging sessions in a year is a flip in that not that many EV’s were sold between June 2013 to June 2014. In fact there are sales Between 2015 and June 2014 were sales outnumber several months in one month.

How long will a L2 charger last? 10 years.

You don’t build infastructure to meet today’s demand. Even if sales of ev’s stay pretty flat there will be massive growth in the number of ev’s over the next 10 years. Now do we really think ev growth will be flat? Unlikely, with petrol prices silly low for the uk, ev’s still took 1% of the market. Number of charging events doubled last year, I suspect it will double again the next.

“petrol prices silly low for the uk?”
It’s still FIVE POUNDS a gallon.
YOU must be rolling in cash if you think that is “silly low!”

In poland we had prices cut down buy whooping 10-20%……

But our own gvt new tax did not hepled here ….

Shame EVs have no tax incentives in Poland 😐 nor is there any big push for them from other sources (even compliance cars make possible infra for EVs -> California)

“Two-Thirds Of London’s Electric Car Charging Points Go Unused”

READY? How are the ones used for parking, but not charging counted. I’d expect “data” for connection time for chargers was viewed, but “no data” on used of the charging/parking space was collected.

The reality … this no different than saying “Two-Thirds of Freeway Lane Space Go Unused” … the part of road lane between cars.

ie: raw data needs to be viewed in a larger context. Without context the data doesn’t tell a complete story.

“Studies” like this, are used to manipulate public and political opinion twards not supporting EV infrastructure.

If they count number of successful connections on socket basis, then data is accurate in what its saying.

However no mentioning of broken connections may mean that nobody checked if some of unused connections are malfunctioning.

(Unlike plugging virtually anything else You man have electrical, EVs do electrical handshake with charging infr, and if its not to their liking, no charging will happen)

I simply DO NOT understand the mentality of OLEV who are backing (and, to a great extent, have paid for) these low level street-side chargers which are never used. What EVer, in their right mind, is going to leave home on a journey which they know they won’t have enough range to return from unless they can *without fail* obtain a top-up charge somewhere along the way? This effectively means that street-side chargers are virtually pointless as no-one will risk relying on them to be both available and working when they arrive to use them. EVers will only ever venture into London if they know they’ll get home again on one charge (like me). Where the money *should* be being spent at this point in the EV ‘revolution’ is on a strategically located network of rapid chargers (ones capable of charging a typical EV from empty to 80% in less than 30 minutes) which EVers can rely on to spend 5 or 10 minutes at for a 30 mile or so range boost should they get caught short. Such a network would completely illuminate the main barrier to EV take-up i.e. range anxiety. Instead, what few rapid chargers HMG are… Read more »

Right on!

Someday the people that make these decisions will be driving EVs themselves. That will result in smarter choices.


The operative word being “Network”
Which is why a car that sells for 4X the cost of a Leaf is selling so well – its manufacturer is taking responsibility for building a coordinated network of chargers and also takes responsibility to keep them working.
Not one of the other manufacturers is really trying to build a real network, they just abdicate to third parties.

just remembered – the other thing this manufacturer has started doing is actively building its network of destination chargers. They are much slower but are located where cars will be parked for many hours – where people are able to leave them.
The main point being it is still planned as a network within the capabilities of the car.

Good thing is that those chargers are operated by private company.

Somebody WILL do the analysis of how to get moneys out of them.

We will see if that means “just forget about them”, or some more reasonable stance.

I’m sure all these are issues, bad location, ICED, etc. But what people miss is chargers are important even when they are never used, lots of chargers available gives people the confidence to buy an EV, which they then only charge at home and maybe at work.