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Were charging posts an expensive mistake?

Was the Mayor's plan to turn London into the electric car capital of the world an ambitious but expensive mistake? So far the charging points for the cars have cost the taxpayer more than 6 million pounds, but motorists aren't swapping their petrol guzzlers for free-to-charge electric vehicles.

ITV News has seen the latest figures obtained through a Freedom of Information Act which show 65 percent of the charging stations simply haven't been used. This exclusive report from Dan Hewitt.

Mayor: 'We must invest in electric technology for the future'

Mayor Boris Johnson has responded to new figures which show that two-thirds of electric car recharging posts in the capital are not being used. He called on electric car manufacturers to reduce their prices, and said the technology was vital for reducing emissions.

Westminster City Council says that putting in electric charging points is the only way to ensure that the infrastructure is in place for the long term. It says:

· There are 42 on-street recharging bays within the City of Westminster. At the start of 2013, there were approximately 150 recharging stations in the public car parks in Westminster

· The first on-street recharging point was installed in 2006 as a trial with local users. Westminster has spent and budgeted approx £140,000 per year on electric vehicle recharging infrastructure to deliver recharging bays in line with local demand.

· Usage data shows that the established on-street recharging points (which cover a two year period) are used at least twice / three times a day and the average length of stay at the post is 4.5 hours.


1000 electric charge points are unused

London now has 1,300 charging points for electric cars, but new figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show that only 300 of them have been used at all.

A man charging his electric car in Westminster Credit: Katie Collins/PA Wire

Since its launch two years ago, 1,300 charging points have been installed by a consortium of over 60 public and private partners, led by Transport for London at over 300 sites in the capital, including supermarkets, shopping centres, council and private car parks, hospitals and on the street.

London's 1,300 electric car charging points form Europe's largest urban charging network Credit: Katie Collins/PA Wire

Energy is supplied by EDF and motorists can charge cars for free after paying a £10 annual membership.

But figures obtained by the London Assembly Liberal Democrats showed that in the last four months of 2012, only 198 of 800 points were used.

For many points the average use was just one to four minutes a day, suggesting they were only used once or twice over this period. Only 37 of those 198 charging points were used for two hours or more each day on average. Stephen Knight, the Assembly Lib-Dems' environment spokesman, said:

"Source London is clearly failing to have much impact. A growing network of charging points primarily for private electric cars may have long-term merit but the Mayor's first priority must be to switch London's 20,000 diesel taxis and 8,500 buses to electric power."