At the end of 2015, there were just 8,472 fuel stations in the UK, down from 37,539 in 1970. Assuming a steady rate of decline, Nissan predicts that by August 2020 this will fall to under 7,870.*
In contrast, the number of public electric vehicle charging locations is expected to reach 7,900 by the same point in time. However, the accelerating adoption of electric vehicles means this crossover could happen a lot sooner.
Just over 100 years since the first fuel station opened – November 1919 at Aldermaston in Berkshire – the number in the UK has peaked, declined and is expected to be overtaken by charging stations designed for battery, not combustion, powered cars.
More than 75% of UK petrol stations have closed in the last 40 years, whilst the number of electric vehicle charging locations has increased from a few hundred in 2011 to more than 4,100 locations in 2016, as electric car sales take off.
According to Go Ultra Low, the joint government and car industry campaign, more than 115 electric cars were registered every day in the first quarter of 2016, equivalent to one every 13 minutes. The campaign also believes electric power could be the dominant form of propulsion for all new cars sold in the UK as early as 2027, with more than 1.3m electric cars registered each year.
Edward Jones, EV Manager, Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd., said;
“‘As electric vehicle sales take off, the charging infrastructure is keeping pace and paving the way for convenient all-electric driving. 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.”
Whilst the vast majority of electric vehicle owners charge at home, 98% of UK motorway services have charging stations, including rapid connectors that most electric cars can recharge to 80% in just 30 minutes.
Supply of fuel within the Capital is also becoming scarcer. Central London has nearly half as many petrol stations per car as the Scottish Highlands; only four remain within the congestion-charge zone**. A notable closure in 2008 was one of the country’s oldest forecourts, the Bloomsbury Service Station, which had been operational since 1926.