In the U.K., at least
Nissan thinks electric vehicle charging points will outnumber fuel stations in the United Kingdom as early as 2020.
That prediction is based on the fact that the number of fuel stations in the U.K. has fallen by 75 percent since 1970, down from 37,539 to 8,472 at the end of 2015. Assuming that rate of decline is maintained, Nissan extrapolates that there will be just 7,870 fuel stations by 2020.
In contrast, Nissan notes that the number of EV charging points has jumped from just a few hundred in 2011, up to an expected 4,100 by the end of this year. On that basis, it reckons there will be 7,900 charging points by 2020, just overtaking fuel stations. According to CAA Canada, there are currently 3,673 EV charging stations across Canada.
It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the vast majority of the fuel stations that have disappeared were small operations, many of them rural and/or attached to a workshop. Some will have closed because they became unprofitable, some because the owner retired or died, or decided they wanted a change. Most, I suspect, were simply sold off to cash in the value of the real estate. Most of those small stations have replaced by massive edifices on major roads, so the actual number of pumps available probably isn't that much different.
Be that as it may, Nissan's central prediction that a tipping is coming sooner rather than later is probably accurate. Nissan points to increasing range and decreasing charging times as factors in bolstering EV sales, which seem to set records every month in the U.K. Nissan's EV Manager, Edward Jones, 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," he added.
Nissan's Leaf was the first mass-produced electric car; the Japanese automaker has sold more EVs than any other marque.
The U.K.'s first fuel station opened in 1919 in Aldermaston, Berkshire, less than 10 miles from where I'm writing this, funnily enough. Though the pump is long gone, it's location is marked by a plaque.