Surprising reason why drivers are struggling to charge electric cars revealed after mistakenly thinking ports are broken

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MOTORISTS wanting to charge their electric vehicles are struggling to use public charging stations because of poor mobile reception. 

The majority of chargers across the country can only be accessed by a smartphone app, leaving some users in “black spots”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged Ofcom to publish a map warning drivers what stations are in the black spots or “not spots” – where one or more of the four UK networks do not work. 

More than 20 per cent of A and B roads in 22 local authorities were affected by signal when trying to charge their cars. 

A report has also shown that Brits are resisting switching to electric motors because of the lack of charging stations and the cost. 

More remote areas of Britain were there worst affected with 56 per cent of Argyll and Bute, in Scotland, lacking sufficient connectivity for reliable charging.

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Sevenoaks, Kent, Maldon and Essex have 11 per cent of the roads affected, while Richmondshire in North Yorkshire have issues on 28 percent of the roads. 

The problem leaves motorists thinking the station is out of order, rather than an issue with the mobile signal. 

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, the independent research body that produced the study, told the Sunday Times: “There are few things more frustrating for EV drivers than turning up to a charge point that they can’t activate.

“This then fuels ‘charge anxiety’ among those as yet unpersuaded that an EV would work for them.

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“Two things need to happen. First, we need an accurate picture of mobile signal connectivity across the road network, so that charge-point providers know in detail what’s available.

"And second, we need the charge points themselves to be kitted-out appropriately so that they function wherever they’re located and whichever mobile network their users subscribe to.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who bought a Tesla Model 3 in 2019, has admitted that weaknesses in the network of public chargers are an obstacle to getting more electric vehicles on the road. 

The government is aiming to increase the number of fully electric vehicles on the road from 450,000 to ten million by 2030, and has said that they will spend £1.6billion on expanding the network.

The expansion would take the number of chargers from 30,000 to 300,000 chargers by 2030.

This exceeds the 66,000 spaces at petrol stations because it takes so much longer to charge up a car than to fuel it.

'LOSE THE BATTLE'

Quentin Willson, who leads the FairCharge campaign to improve support for electric vehicles, said: “We’re asking consumers to jump through hoops.

"All these charges ought to be done with simple contactless cards, so you pay for your electricity like you pay for your petrol. 

“If we continue to make it difficult for consumers to change their behaviour and buy electric cars, and not have confidence in the infrastructure and whether it works or not, we’ll lose the battle.”

Ofcom said the government’s shared rural network strategy was increasing mobile reception, and added: “Ensuring reliable mobile connections at charge points will require energy providers to work directly with mobile operators, which we are ready to help with.”

A new report has also revealed that 72 per cent of Brits are put off by the price of electric cars, and 58 per cent say charging points are not accessible enough.

Half of British drivers, 48 per cent, would only consider changing from fossil fuels if prices drop and more charging points are installed. 

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Dr Karen Lucas, Professor of Human Geography and Urban Institute Transport at the University of Manchester, added: “Clearly, people aren’t going to take up electric vehicles with so many perceived barriers ahead of them. 

“Many people live in flats or on housing estates, or in places without drives or garages, where you physically can’t put in an electric charging point."

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