In only four years’ time public electric vehicle (EV) charging spots will outnumber petrol stations in the UK, claims Nissan.

charging station EV

Credit: EnergyTrends.org

The automaker published a report in which it claims there are only 8,472 traditional fuel stations left in the UK, down from 37,539 in 1970. Based on the current rate of decline, this figure is supposed to drop to 7,870 by summer 2020. EV charging spots, however, are rapidly increasing in numbers through the country. By the same date, these charging locations are expected to reach 7,900, Nissan reckons. This shift might actually happen sooner, depending on how fast Brits switch to EVs and manufacturers can cut down prices.

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Right now, there are 4,100 public EV charging locations in the UK. It might not seem like much, but we ought to consider there were only a couple hundred in 2011. This accelerated growth is driven by rapid adoption of EVs as well as generous infrastructure investments made by operators.

“As electric vehicle sales take off, the charging infrastructure is keeping pace and paving the way for convenient all-electric driving,” said Edward Jones, EV manager at Nissan Motor in a statement. “Combine that with constant improvements in our battery performance and we believe the tipping point for mass EV uptake is upon us.

“As with similar breakthrough technologies, the adoption of electric vehicles should follow an ‘S-curve’ of demand. A gradual uptake from early adopters accelerates to a groundswell of consumers buying electric vehicles just as they would any other powertrain.”

While EV stations might soon outnumber petrol cars, the two are not equivalent in convenience, however. There are four main EV charging types: Slow (up to 3kW) which is best suited for 6-8 hours overnight; Fast (7-22kW) which can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours; and Rapid AC and DC (43-50kW) which are able to provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. In a petrol station, you can get quick refuel in under 5 minutes, though. This setback might falter in the coming years though as operators use more efficient, larger batteries as well as faster charging stations, i.e. Tesla’s SuperCharger network.

In Japan, there are already more EV charging spots than petrol stations, and Bloomberg Energy News predicts EVs will be cheaper than conventional automobiles by 2022 on a total cost of ownership basis.