Last week, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) slammed the slow roll-out of electric car charging infrastructure.
The CMA says charging an EV ‘should be as simple as filling up with petrol or diesel’.
The 2030 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars is fast approaching. In spite of this, the switch to EVs is being stopped by the lack of motorway, local road, and rural charging stations.
Recent figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that there are more than 450,000 EVs on UK roads. Whilst car companies such as Jaguar and Volvo are committing to going all-electric, the latest government data points to a postcode lottery in EV charging infrastructure. Currently, London outstrips rural areas in terms of public accessibility. The CMA report highlighted the lack of choice and availability of places to plug in an electric car at motorway service stations. Plus, it cited the slow rollout of on-street charging by local authorities – which many drivers without off-street parking rely on – and lack of investment in rural areas. People’s confidence and trust in EVs are also affected by anxiety over the reliability of charge points, and the higher cost of public charging, the CMA found.
Making it Easy for EVs
The CMA’s key recommendations include a National Strategy for rolling out EV charging. Energy regulators should ensure that it’s quicker and cheaper to connect new charge points. Plus, the government should support local authorities (LAs) to boost the roll-out of on-street charging with funding. Additionally, conditions should be attached to the government’s £950m Rapid Charging Fund. The Fund is earmarked for grid upgrades at motorway service stations. However, the CMA insists competition is essential so that drivers have a choice of charging provider at each service station. It also demanded an easy payment structure. It wants a standardised pricing scheme, access for all EVs from different brands, and acceptance of contactless payments. Currently, there is no universal system that clearly highlights the locations where devices are, if they are working and whether they are available.
Charge Less for Charging?
The CMA’s findings are supported by the Transport Select Committee. It recently stated that people must be protected from excessive pricing for public electric car charging. Data from Zap-Map shows that there are now 8,471 charging sites across the UK, as opposed to 8,400 petrol stations. This means there are on average 34 public charge points per 100,000 of population. Clean energy company Gridserve has just promised to add 300 rapid chargers to 85% of the UK’s motorway service stations. Plus, supermarket giant Morrisons claims UK drivers will never be more than 50 miles away from an electric charger this summer. However, at present, there is a disparity between how much it costs to charge a car at home compared to public charging. Public charging is still significantly more expensive.
“Charging electric vehicles should be convenient, straightforward and inexpensive and drivers must not be disadvantaged by where they live or how they charge their vehicles,” concluded committee chair Huw Merriman.