The rollout of electric car charge-points must become five times quicker before the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars comes into force, a report has warned.
The research by think tank Policy Exchange found that the nation will need 400,000 public chargers by 2030 and installations will need to accelerate from current levels of 7,000 a year to 35,000 annually over the next decade.
It warned that without intervention rural areas and small towns were at risk of becoming “charging blackspots”.
It comes as the Government announced £20m of funding to support local authorities in building new chargers, a move it said would lead to an additional 4,000 being installed under the scheme.
In the foreword to the report, Simon Clarke, a Conservative MP and former minister for regional growth and local government, said: “Whereas a driver of a petrol car can travel confidently from Land’s End to John O’Groats, knowing that they can refill the tank every few miles, that is not yet the case for EVs (electric vehicles).
“Some areas have naturally built up impressive coverage, such as central London, but vast swathes of the country have not.”
The report made several recommendations for the Government to meet the demand, including contracting private firms to install them in areas where they are sparse and funding dedicated teams at local councils.
It also said that the maximum price charged at Government-supported chargers should be regulated to avoid providers exploiting local monopolies.
There also needed to be improvements to the charging experience, it said, which could include an app to allow drivers to find charge-points and pay for the electricity.
Report author and Policy Exchange senior research fellow Ed Birkett said: “Companies are rolling out charge-points at a record rate, but there’s a risk that some areas of the country won’t get enough charge-points and will be left behind.
“We’re concerned about patchy deployment of charge-points, which runs against the Government’s plans for levelling up and a strong and connected Union.”
Rod Dennis, of the RAC, said: “Without a big increase in the number of charge points right across the UK, certain parts of the country risk getting left behind as 2030 approaches.”
He added: “Having a sufficient number of charge points will also become especially important in those rural areas of the UK that see large annual influxes of visitors by car in the summer months.”
Meanwhile, Transport secretary Grant Shapps insisted that the charging network in the UK is “world leading” and the Government urged councils to take advantage of a £20m fund to help boost the numbers of on-road chargers.
Its scheme, which it says has already supported applications for nearly 4,000 points across the country, was extended until 2022.
Mr Shapps said: “From Cumbria to Cornwall, drivers across the country should benefit from the electric vehicle revolution we’re seeing right now. “With a world-leading charging network, we’re making it easier for more people to switch to electric vehicles, creating healthier neighbourhoods and cleaning up our air as we build back greener.”
In November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought forward the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 to 2030 as part of his “green industrial revolution”.
Appetite for electric vehicles is growing, with recent research by the RAC suggesting that nearly one in 10 drivers say they will go electric when they next buy a car, up from just three per cent two years previously.