Electric vehicle owners will soon be able to use any public charging point, accessed through a single payment platform and with a bank card, under new government suggestions.
The operators of new rapid and higher powered charge points will be expected to offer pay as you go card payment functionality by the spring of 2020.
Additionally, the industry will be expected to develop a roaming solution, allowing motorists to access and pay for charging points through a single platform, rather than with multiple different smartphone apps or membership cards.
Data about charging points should be freely available, to enable drivers to easily locate and access them.
While these improvements aren’t mandatory, if the industry doesn’t deliver them, the government says it is “prepared to intervene to ensure a good deal for consumers, using powers under “prepared to intervene to ensure a good deal for consumers by using powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act.”
The UK currently has more than 20,000 publicly accessible electric vehicle charging points, including 2,000 rapid charge points. However, with more than 50 different charging point providers, EV adopters are often juggling multiple apps and payment methods.
Future of Mobility Minister Michael Ellis said: “The government’s vision is for the UK to have one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world but we know the variety of payment methods at the moment is a source of frustration for drivers.”
“It is crucial there are easy payment methods available to improve electric vehicle drivers’ experiences and give drivers choice. This will help even more people enjoy the benefits electric vehicles bring and speed up our journey to a zero-emission future.”
The government’s announces comes as BP Chargemaster, operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, committed to introducing card payments on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers. It will also retrofit all its existing UK-manufactured rapid chargers with the technology over the next 12 months.
“We support the government’s vision for all new rapid and ultra-fast chargers to support contactless bank card payment,” David Newton, CEO at BP Chargemaster.
However, card payments will primarily be used by occasional chargers, he said. The majority of users of BP Chargemaster’s network will continue to use its Polar Plus subscription plan.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said: “[The] industry’s ambition is to deliver zero emission transport, giving consumers confidence and convenience to encourage the widespread take up of electric and other zero emission vehicles. Today’s announcements regarding simplified payment at public charge points is very welcome, and will help drive greater demand.”
The Department for Transport has found that 80% of electric vehicle charging is done at home but says that public charging locations are vital for drivers who don’t have access to off-street parking.
The UK has committed to banning the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and to seeing half of all new vehicle sales be ultra-low emissions a decade prior to that. However, consumer uptake of EVs has been slow, with just 1% of households owning an electric vehicle and 2% owning a hybrid. When questioned about their reluctance, consumers often cite concerns about the range of the vehicles and the patchy distribution of public charging stations.