China faces EV uptake hurdles

Charging infrastructure concentrated in urban areas, leaving highways less well supported

China faces EV uptake hurdles
China is home to 51pc of the world's EV chargers

Insufficient charging access remains a major barrier to EV uptake in China despite the country having the world’s largest charging network, according to a report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

China has over a million public chargers — 51pc of the global total — with 56GW of installed capacity, which is three times the size of Europe.

But these chargers are concentrated in the more developed regions, with just 15 cities containing 57pc of the country’s public charger stock in 2022. 

In these cities, almost all EV drivers can find a public charger within 20 minutes of driving time.

But the nation's highways are less well covered. As of June last year, China had installed 18,590 public chargers alongside highways — representing less than 2pc of the nation’s total public charger stock, according to data released by China’s Ministry of Transport.

As of 2022, China had 105 chargers per 1,000km on its highways, compared with 135 per 1,000km in California and 654 per 1,000km in Norway.

Public charger availability on highways is among Chinese EV drivers’ greatest concerns on long-distance trips, according to a recent study.

“Public charging infrastructure networks could be expanded beyond the urban centres of the most developed cities, and charger availability on highways could be enhanced with dedicated policy and financial support,” says the ICCT report.

Charger capacity

China’s public chargers are dominated by AC chargers with a rated power of 7kW (51pc), followed by DC chargers with a rated power of 120kW (19pc), 60kW (7pc), and 150kW (5pc).

In Europe, AC chargers with a rated power of 22kW are the most common charger type (37pc), followed by AC chargers with a rated power of 11kW (20pc) and DC chargers with a rated power of 50kW (8pc). 

The rated power of public AC and DC chargers in China average 9kW and 129kW, respectively, compared to 16kW and 121kW respectively for Europe.


The utilisation rates of public chargers in the 32 Chinese cities analysed saw average usage of 11pc. This compares to a 34pc utilisation rate in Amsterdam.

Such low utilisation rates may be the result of a lack of understanding of EV owners’ charging needs, the ICCT report suggests. 

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Traditionally, Chinese provinces and cities have emphasised the absolute number of public chargers and public charger-per-EV ratios when evaluating charging infrastructure deployment, rather than coverage, capacity and utilisation rates. 

The report recommends China establish an official national database on charging infrastructure to improve the comprehensiveness and quality of data on public chargers.

Policy makers could then leverage a “comprehensive” set of metrics to better evaluate the deployment of public charging infrastructure.

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