Oct 27, 2023 | EV News

Plus a brief history of electric vehicles

Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure is steadily growing in the UK, meaning increased accessibility for drivers, as more and more people transition to electric. However, it hasn’t always been like this, and EVs have come a long way, particularly in more recent years.  

vintage looking history books on wooden shelves about the history of EV

The First Modern Electric Vehicles 

The first ever electric vehicle was invented in 1890 by an American Chemist named William Morrison who created a six-passenger vehicle capable of a top speed of a whopping 14 miles per hour. 

Although Morrison’s invention was essentially just an electrified wagon, it was the first of its kind and helped drive interest towards electric vehicles.  

It wasn’t until around 100 years later, in the 1990s-2010s, that electric vehicles really caught mainstream traction, and environmental concerns pushed EVs into the spotlight. 

At the time of their conception, the first electric vehicles of the 1890s were little more than a novelty but in the UK, personal vehicles of any kind were not in great demand. In fact, in 1895, there were only an estimated 14 or 15 cars on Britain’s roads. 

The cars that were in use, tended to run on petrol, or the tried and tested method of steam, which had been used to power trains and factories since the late 1600s. But they were loud, difficult to use and expelled large plumes of putrid-smelling exhaust. It was these issues that kept the interest in cleaner, quieter electric vehicles going.  

However, the development of Henry Ford’s Model T car (which was much cheaper to buy than an electric car) and Charles Kettering’s electric starter eliminated many of the issues associated with traditional petrol-powered cars, and as climate change was not yet a concern, electric cars were pushed out of the limelight.   

Fast forward to the late 90s and 2010s, when environmental concerns were making their way to the forefront of conversation, and people wanted to find ways to adapt their behaviour to reduce their carbon footprints. Combine this with ever-rising petrol prices and it’s no wonder heads began to turn back to electric vehicles.  

In 2004, the infamous Tesla began to work on their Tesla Roadster, which was the first of its kind; a road legal, lithium-ion battery, all-electric car, ready for sale in 2008. Followed by the Model S in 2012, these set the new standard for electric vehicles.  

As climate concerns and gas prices continued to grow, so did the prevalence of electric vehicles and their growing infrastructure. In the UK, between 2013 and 2016, total registrations for EVs went from 3,586 to 37,092 and continued to rise to 59,911 by 2018. 

Why Electric? 

It’s clear that EVs have come a long way since their invention, but with technical advancements and changing attitudes, they have continued to grow in popularity. According to ZapMap, in July 2023 there were an estimated 840,000 fully electric cars on UK roads and a further 520,000 plug-in hybrids, meaning one in every 32 cars are classed as EVs – up by 50% compared to the previous year.  

There are many reasons why people are making the switch, from reducing their carbon footprints and saving money on gas, to increased availability of public charging infrastructure and the freedom to drive in Clean Air Zones. The idea of a clean, green car is becoming more and more attractive to the masses. 

Rows of EVs lined up and charging depicting how EV infrastructure is expanding

How EV Infrastructure is Expanding  

However, although a zero-emissions vehicle free from the shackles of ever-fluctuating gas prices may be an attractive concept; many drivers are still unsure of electric vehicles. This is largely due to concerns over a lack of accessible charging points, getting stranded with a flat battery, and perceived higher costs.  

In December 2021, the UK government announced their plan to ‘remove charging infrastructure as both a perceived and real barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles’, stating that by 2030, they expect there to be around 300,000 public ChargePoints compared to the current 61,000 we have in 2023. 

Government Grants and Funding for EV infrastructure 

As part of the UK government’s net zero by 2050 target, drivers are being encouraged to switch to electric vehicles, to reduce their emissions. One way of doing this, includes grants being offered to individuals and businesses wanting to install private EV chargers on their property. These grants offer the applicant a discount on the price of installing EV charge points, making them more accessible. You can find out more about the grants available, and what you may be eligible for, in our Guide to Government Grants blog.  

As well as government grants, there are a number of tax-related incentives for switching to EV, for example, EVs are exempt from road tax charges as well as Clean Air Zone fees, lowering their day-to-day running costs. 

In addition to encouraging users to switch, the government has also introduced new legislation for property developers, affecting both newly built and retrofit properties. The legislation states that all new and retrofit domestic properties with dedicated parking must be fitted with an EV charger and all new and retrofit commercial properties must have at least one EV charging space for every 10 parking spaces on the premises. For more information on these legislations and to find out how you may be affected, you can read our guide to EV regulations. 

A young mother with her child charging her EV at home

Workplace and Home Charging 

While public charging infrastructure is becoming more accessible, many people are choosing to install their own personal EV chargers in their homes. This allows users to charge their vehicles overnight with the peace of mind of knowing they will never have to go far to find a charger.  

Another popular option is for businesses to introduce workplace chargering so their EV-driving employees can charge their cars whilst they work. This is often done at a reduced cost for the employee and may be set up as a salary deduction scheme. 

If you’re interested in installing your own EV charger, either at home or at work, we can help! Browse our range of EV charging options and get your free no-obligation quote today. 

In the grand scheme of things, it’s still very early days for electric vehicles, but with innovation happening constantly, and infrastructure always expanding, it is clear to see that EVs have a great potential to reduce the environmental impact of the transport industry and improve sustainability, both on an individual and a global level. 

Looking Ahead 

Whether you’re sold on electric vehicles or still have a little way to go, their growth over the last few years, prove that EVs are not going anywhere, and as infrastructure and production techniques continue to develop, we can expect to see a lot more of them on the road in years to come.  

The UK government are in full support of this progress and have even vowed to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, while investing a further £1.8 billion into increasing EV infrastructure.  

An electric vehicle plugged into a charger - how EV infrastructure is expanding

Ready to Join the Green Movement? 

For more information about switching to electric vehicles, EV ChargePoint installation, and how Yü Charge can help, contact our friendly team on 01204 327 281 or email us at  

If you’ve made your mind up and you’re ready to make the switch, it’s time to start researching your ideal electric vehicle and EV charger. Or, if you’ve already got your new vehicle picked out, our quick quotes for EV chargepoint installation can help you get ready for convenient charging at your home or business.