Tesla owners forced to wait in three-hour queues during Christmas car-charging chaos


By Paul Homewood


Lengthy queues were spotted in Hertfordshire, Cumbria, Westmorland and Telford as drivers travelled to visit relatives during the holidays.

Around 24 electric vehicle owners were seen waiting for up to an hour to charge in a Waitrose car park in the village of South Mimms, Hertfordshire, on Dec 25.

The Tebay Southbound supercharger in Cumbria, by the M6 Junction, also saw a high volume of vehicles attempting to charge on Dec 27.

Members of the “Tesla Owners Club UK” took to Facebook to vent their frustration at the queues at Tebay, which they said were up to three hours long.

One member commented: “Been here for over an hour. Still 15 in front of me in the queue for a charge.

“Easily another two hours to wait – minimum.”

Another Tesla owner who braved the queue said: “Really upsetting to have the whole family wait for two hours to charge the car.”

In Westmorland, north west England, a driver said scenes at motorway charging stations were “bedlam”.

A Manchester-based user shared a photo of a long queue of Teslas, and said: “Currently car 15 in a queue of over 20… but you can always rely on the British public to make an orderly queue.”

The UK’s rollout of electric car chargers has stalled so far this year, with the Government set to fall short of its target unless it ramps up monthly installations by 350 per cent.

The Department for Transport (DfT) set a new goal to increase the number of charging points more than ten times to 300,000 by the end of the decade.

Between Oct 1 last year and Jan 1 2022 there were a total of 2,448 electric car chargers installed, but in the first three months of this year that had slowed to 1,915.


The Government target for charging points is a red herring. All of these motorway chargers are commercially owned and run – it is a question of supply and demand. Investors are quite properly not prepared to spend billions on charging points which may only be lightly used most of the time. Consequently there will always be times when demand exceeds supply.

It is the time cars need to charge up that is the real problem. It is inevitable that during busy periods these queues are going to be more and more common, as the number of EVs on the road grows.

Given that there are only 420,000 EVs on the road at the moment, we will see much worse in years to come.

Interestingly these incidents all appear to affect only Teslas, which have their own network. In 2020 about a quarter of EVs on the road were Tesla, a figure of 90,000. I would guess the proportion is still similar.

At the Tebay Services mentioned, there are eight Tesla chargers, which is a good number for what is usually a quiet part of the M6. They are all rapid chargers, 150kW.

I certainly would not call that a shortage of chargers.