The number of electric car charging points is rising but how well is Preston doing?

Preston is well ahead of the curve in the North West on the green transport revolution, new figures suggest, with among the best access to electric car charging points.

There were 41 public charging devices in the area at the start of April, according to new Department for Transport data. That’s a rate of 29 per 100,000 people – among the highest in the North West, where the figure stood at 19.

The local rate was also above the UK average of 27. The DfT said the regional distribution of devices across the UK was uneven, with some councils having bid for government funding, while others had not.

The North West's rate put it fifth out of England’s nine regions for accessability. The area has added three new devices to its supply since the last count in October, when there were 38.

There were 41 public charging devices Preston at the start of April

Across the UK, the number rose by 19 per cent over the six-month period to just under 18,000 in April – a rate of 27 per 100,000.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “One of the myths we urgently need to clear up is a perceived lack in charging points. However, if drivers feel they cannot find a charge point then more needs to be done.”

Better signage for the devices could make them easier for motorists to spot, he suggested, as well as finding solutions for those who want to charge their car at home but do not have off-street parking.

He added: “Encouraging drivers to make the switch to electric cars will also encourage both councils and businesses to install charging infrastructure.

“We believe that further incentives are required to ease the transition to lower-emission vehicles, such as cutting VAT on the sale of certain vehicles or targeted scrappage schemes.”

Boris Johnson is reported to be considering launching plans to give drivers up to £6,000 to exchange their petrol or diesel car for an electric model.

Of the devices in Preston, 11 were “rapid” charging points, which can crank most electric car batteries up to 100 per cent in under half an hour. There were 3,100 of these across the UK at the start of April.

The DfT data is sourced from the electric vehicle charging platform Zap-Map, which say it covers 95 per cent of publicly accessible devices. Some units can only charge one car at a time, while others can deal with multiple vehicles simultaneously.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said the issue for drivers was less about the number of chargers and more about whether they work and are easy to use.

He added: “It’s high time connecting to a charge point proved no more challenging than pulling onto a service station forecourt to fill up with petrol and pay with your credit card."

A DfT spokesman said: “Accessing charge points has never been easier and we want to make it easier still, with a further £10 million to install chargers.

“The Government is considering the long-term future of incentives for zero-emission vehicles alongside our consultation on bringing forward the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans.”