A “postcode lottery” is preventing drivers making the switch to electric as there are not enough places to charge vehicles, evidence suggests.

Drivers in Colchester have a minimum of 13 charging stations across the town while Basildon and Chelmsford have 12.

But people living or travelling to Maldon and Brentwood would be fighting over just three locations.

In Harlow, someone travels an average of 0.46km to top-up their car, compared to 3.53km in Epping Forest – the highest of 14 local authorities surveyed by the BBC, which has studied how prepared the UK is for the electric revolution.

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Nicholas Lyes, RAC’s head of roads policy, said: “These findings show despite the Government’s ambitions to accelerate the take-up of cleaner vehicles, charging infrastructure is presently something of a postcode lottery, and patchy at best in some parts of the country.

“Clearly, we need to improve this access to charge points as a whole, but special attention needs to be given to installing more rapid chargers on the strategic road network as well as adding charging capability at car parks, where people spend longer periods.

“The key is to give drivers the confidence to go electric, which will not happen quickly unless they are given the right incentives to do so, alongside easy access to reliable charging infrastructure.”

As part of the Road to Zero strategy, the Government wants at least half of new cars and 40 per cent of new vans to be ultra-low emission by 2030.

AA president Edmund King said this is "unlikely to be achieved" unless more efforts are made to convince the public of the wide benefits of electric vehicles, or EVs.

The BBC has taken data from Open Charge Map, a crowd-sourced website of charging locations which excludes at-home charging points, the Department for Transport and DVLA.

Maldon, Epping Forest and Brentwood council areas have some of the worst rates of charging locations per 1,000 electric vehicles.

They are in the bottom 20 per cent of all UK councils.

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A Maldon District Council spokesman said: "The council is keen to support the use of electric vehicles as part of our objective to create a clean local environment.

"Two more electric vehicle charging points have been installed at the council’s offices and in Princes Road, as part of the council’s Air Quality Action Plan.

"We're also actively encouraging new developments to include provision for ultra-low emission vehicles by setting this out as a standard in a supplementary planning document."

Meanwhile Harlow has soared with a rate of 96.4, putting it above the UK average of about 70.

However, you will find the least number of EVs in this west Essex town – just 83 were licensed in quarter three of 2018.

Finding locations, charging stations being occupied, a lack of standardisation of charging points with there being a mix of connectors, charge points and tariffs, plus varying charge times are major obstacles for drivers.

Tackling housing developers to drive electric car ownership is a method also being adopted by Colchester Council.

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A Government grant encourages people to install chargers at home. Picture: Stock image

“On the basis most electric car owners will choose to charge their vehicle at home, where possible for larger housing developments, and those close to Air Quality Management areas, a requirement for electric charging facilities is made part of planning permission,” a spokesman said.

"It's also added as a condition for larger out-of-town retail developments."

Each year since 2011, there has been an average of 34 electric vehicles registered in Colchester, the BBC’s data shows.

But it is Braintree which has seen the largest increase going from two to 213 in 2018, followed by Southend and Thurrock.

Despite their 200-plus electric car owners, there is nowhere yet in Castle Point or Rochford to charge them.

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Dr Laurel Spooner from Colchester is an electric car fan

A Government funding boost of more than £450,000 will eventually change things as charge points get erected in Southend, Rochford and Basildon.

But Southend Council has claimed the BBC's study is misleading because hybrid cars are not entirely reliant on charging points.

Carl Robinson, the council's director of public protection, said: “Southend differs from neighbouring towns because we have fewer homes with off-street parking. 

"We're therefore looking at alternative ways for residents to own and charge electric vehicles because the majority of electric vehicles owners charge their vehicles at home. 

"By improving the public charging infrastructure, we hope those who don't have access to off-street parking yet and want to own an electric vehicle, can do so."

What are your experiences of driving electric around Essex?

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Queues of traffic on a busy road. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Belinda Allen, from Burnham, shares a Nissan Leaf with her husband.

"He loves it but it's seriously restricted by its range.

"I know there are charging point spaces in Asda South Woodham Ferrers car park but as they're close to the building, they're usually full of non-electric cars.

"The newer electric models have a bigger range and we're seriously considering one of those in the future."

Company director John Gladman, 55, has owned a Tesla since 2017.

It charges well in comparison to non-Tesla models for which the “infrastructure is woefully inadequate”.

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John Gladman finds charging infrastructure poor in south Essex

Each day John travels a 30-mile round trip from Latchingdon to Basildon.

He said: “My car is parked at home or at the office long enough to keep it charged. Also for longer runs, the Tesla Supercharger network provides for those journeys on the motorway or major A-road network.

“I find the EV car to be easy and relaxing to drive, and perhaps more importantly, cheap to run.”

Tesla owner Jason Smedley, managing director of Clacton’s Royal Hotel, has a lovely time driving in Tendring.

Even his daughter has converted to electric, and both drive between London and Clacton.

He said: "I put it on charge for about 11 hours and never have to worry about going to a petrol station.

"Going to electric is like swapping from a Nokia to an Apple phone - it's a whole new concept of driving. It’s an absolutely amazing experience.

"To anyone thinking about going electric I'd say 100 per cent to go for it.

“I thoroughly enjoy it and it's helping save the environment."

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A photo of John Gladman's Tesla car

Deane Morgan has wanted an electric car for more than a year but not having a driveway has stopped him.

The main appeal of electric cars is saving money.

The Harwich resident said: “If I bought an older Nissan leaf for £6,000, I’d be saving over £1,000 a year in fuel costs alone for my daily 38-mile commute.

“Maintenance costs on electric vehicles are next to nothing because there are few moving parts, saving me about £150 a year.

“There’s also currently no road tax on electric vehicles, a further saving of £200 per year. The car essentially pays for itself in a few years.”

Chris Lewis, from Frinton, sold his electric car after just six months because of a lack of charging points and bays being occupied by non-electric cars.

He said: “I tried informing the companies in charge of the charging locations but most didn’t care.

"I would go back to electric vehicles but I found the distance between charging wasn't great. On full charge I could go 140 miles before I had to charge again, which brings me to the worst part of electric car ownership.

"People either don’t care or don’t realise they've parked in an electric-only charge point bay which means you can’t charge your car."