OWNERS of electric vehicles (EVs) in Scotland could be forced to charge them dangerously because of the lack of a public charging infras-tructure, according to a consumer safety charity.

Electrical Safety First said it has found the growth rate of licensed plug-in vehicles is drastically outpacing the number of charging points available to EV owners. It is now calling on the Scottish Government to commit to improving the charging infrastructure.

The charity said owners of the vehicles are being pushed into charging their cars using unsafe methods. One such example is using multiple domestic extension leads.

It analysed data from the UK Department for Transport and charging point website Zap-Map, which showed that between 2015 and last year EVs in Scotland had risen from 2915 to 10,858 – an increase of 272%.

In the same period, charging locations had only gone up from 608 across the country to 995, a rise of 64%.

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It then surveyed 1500 electric vehicle owners across the UK and found 74% believed a lack of public charging points near their home has led them to use domestic extension leads, which are not suitable for

outdoor use. However, more than eight out of 10 respondents in Scotland said they were aware these should not be used outside.

The research also showed almost half of Scottish EV users who charge with an extension lead had left cables running to their vehicle when it has been raining.

Wayne Mackay, deputy public affairs manager for Scotland at Electrical Safety First, called for action on ensure better infrastructure is available.

“Our research shows a direct link between a lack of electric vehicle infrastructure and vehicle owners charging dangerously, and with so few public charging locations in Scotland this is a real concern,” he said.

“Electrical Safety First is urging the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support the rapid increase in numbers of electric vehicles on our roads.

“We warn EV users against giving in to temptation to use domestic extension leads to charge their vehicles outside, and never to ‘daisy-chain’ them together.

“We recommend taking advantage of the Government’s grant scheme which will contribute towards the cost of a specially designed home charging point.

“This is safer than charging from the mains, using a standard extension lead.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “There is no need for the unsafe charging of electric vehicles in Scotland as we have one of the most comprehensive charge point networks in Europe through ChargePlace Scotland. We are approaching 1000 publicly available charge points on the network, including over 200 rapid charge points, and the average distance from any given location to the nearest public charge point is just 2.78 miles in Scotland – the lowest across Great Britain where the average is 4.09 miles. 

“In the last financial year we provided almost £10m to local authorities across Scotland to ensure EV chargers are installed across the country. As part of this we have encouraged local authorities to focus on solutions for remote and rural communities such as considering innovative approaches to on-street charging.”