According to new research, Essex is among the worst counties in the country when it comes to electric vehicle uptake – and local authorities are urged to improve this.

The comments from New AutoMotive, a transport research group supporting the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK, come amid figures showing Essex and Lancashire as having the second worst uptake of EVs in the UK – with a rate of just six per cent in July 2021.

Only Northern Ireland has a worse rate.

The drive towards electric vehicles is among the key factors in determining whether Essex, and ultimately the UK, can meet its net zero commitments by 2050.

With transport responsible for 27 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is essential that travel is decarbonised if Essex is to meet the UK’s climate commitments.

Congestion on Essex roads is an “environmental disaster”, the commission says, and economically is costing local businesses billions.

In 2017, more than £37.7 billion in the UK was lost, directly and indirectly, through traffic congestion. This amounts to an average of £1,168 per driver.

Ben Nelmes, head of policy and research at New AutoMotive, suggested that the low uptake could be to do with large distances people are travelling.

He said: “I would imagine it would largely be that the places where we see high take up are places where the distances people drive are very low – London for example gets a very high take up and electric cars are very suitable for people who live in London because they don’t drive very far, so charging is less of an issue.

“For example Coventry City Council has done all sorts including public information promoting the fuel cost savings of owning an electric vehicle, which is not understood by a lot of people.”

While seeing low uptake of fully electric cars, Essex is seeing some of the strongest sales nationally of hybrid cars.

Mr Nelmes added: “But we also see a continued and worrying growth in hybrid sales. Hybrids are not net zero vehicles, and we are concerned that customers are paying over the odds for a technology that will soon be outdated.

“Local authorities need to make decisions based around the evidence where charge points need to go. There is nothing worse with a charging network that is huge but is in all in the wrong places.”

An Essex council spokesperson said: “Essex County Council has taken a proactive approach to promoting greater public uptake of electric vehicles.

“In partnership with energy firm Electric Blue, we have installed four new electric charging points at the Sandon and Chelmer Valley Park and Ride sites at no cost to taxpayers with drivers able to pay using a mobile app.”