RAC Cars News


Nissan predicts a surge in electric car charging stations

By raccars Published

Nissan Leaf

Do you plan to swap your petrol or diesel vehicle for an electric car anytime soon?

Nissan believes that an electric car revolution is on the way. The Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFV) sector is the fastest-growing area in automotive sales but at the moment, petrol and diesel powered car sales still outstrip AFVs about 30 times over. However, Nissan is predicting that electric charging points will outnumber traditional fuel stations within four years. And it should know a thing or two about the sector; Nissan's Leaf model is the UK's best-selling electric car.

Nissan optimistic about electric car sales

Having researched the market, Nissan has concluded that fuel stations are in the grip of an inevitable decline. There are only about 25 per cent of the number of fuel stations open now compared to 1970, from 37,439 down to 8,472 by the end of 2015. While this is surely in part due to the increasing efficiency of modern cars, with drivers simply making fewer visits to fuel stations, Nissan suggests that combustion fuel is essentially being pushed out by electric charging points.

Fuel stations vs fuel pumps

Controversially, Nissan's research seems to have neglected an important point. According to Nissan, by August 2020 there will be only 7,870 fuel stations in the UK compared to 7,900 public EV charging points. What the study hasn't taken into account is the number of fuel pumps per station compared to the number of individual electric car charging points.

The discrepancy between these figures doesn't accurately reflect new car sales statistics in the UK right now, which are still overwhelmingly dominated by combustion fuel powered cars, with AFVs only accounting for a 3.2 per cent market share, albeit steadily rising.

In hard figures, that means about 46,000 AFVs sold in the UK for every 1.4 million traditional combustion engined vehicles.

Nissan has defended its research by pointing out that at the end of last year, there were only 4,800 more fuel stations in the UK than EV charging points, but again this doesn't take into consideration the number of individual fuel pumps compared to individual EV charging points.

Electric car charging points growing fast

The first electric car charging points opened in the UK in 2012 and there were 913 of them within a year. By the end of 2015 there were 3,646 EV charging points, which shows an extraordinary rate of growth. Nissan's predictions still appear unrealistically optimistic, however, if you take into account that the AFV sector includes hybrid cars as well as pure EVs.

What the study does illustrate is that the UK needs to ensure that its infrastructure can cope with the demands of ever increasing numbers of electric cars and plug-in hybrids.

If sales statistics follow the existing rate of growth, petrol and diesel cars will still account for the majority of new car sales four years from now, but Nissan believes that EV uptake is reaching critical mass. Constantly improving battery capacities should help to provoke an S curve in growth which would skew the current pattern and put EV ahead of combustion engines.

The Government sponsored Go Ultra Low campaign, designed to promote the uptake of low emissions vehicles in the UK, is more circumspect than the Japanese manufacturer but believes that 2027 is a realistic marker for the dominance of EV sales over petrol and diesel.

Fuel prices drop in July

Meanwhile the RAC confirmed that petrol and diesel prices went down in July, the first decrease in four months, thanks to lower oil prices. Fuel providers have come under pressure from campaign groups to reduce prices on the forecourt to reflect cheaper wholesale costs. While unleaded petrol costs fell by 0.41 pence in July, diesel fell by a smaller but still significant 0.06 pence per litre for the first time since March this year.

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