The Government is to break the monopoly on electric car charging at motorway services, with new legislation to ensure chargers are reliable and accessible by all.
Ecotricity currently holds an exclusive contract to provide charging provision along the motorway network, but this is set to change according to Transport Minister Rachel Maclean.
Earlier this year, Zap-Map revealed the UK's best EV charging networks - where Ecotricity’s Electric Highway network was ranked with the lowest score, with one user commenting that “they are out of date and unreliable, with a monopoly on motorway site locations”.
Speaking to electrifying.com, Maclean said: “We do believe it will take Government investment to ‘charge up’ this market. So, we’ve got nearly £1 billion to upgrade those connections at motorway service stations. What we are going to have is at least six high power chargers in every motorway service area by 2023.”
Service level agreements will be put in place to ensure 24/7 customer care and there will be clear pricing information available. If these standards are not met the Government says it will use legislation to enforce them.
The chargers will be available to anyone with a contactless payment card and will be in addition to Tesla units, which are already installed at most service stations. Larger sites will have up to 12 new points providing speeds of up to 350kW.
By 2030, there will be 6,000 rapid charging points across A-roads and motorway service stations, said Maclean.
Maclean added: “We want the private sector to come in and we will take the best commercial offer. Now we have set out our strategy this is an attractive area for investment. This will drive an increase in performance.”
The move has been welcomed by industry experts. RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “This is great news as charging electric cars at motorway service areas needs to fast, reliable and easy to pay for so drivers can make longer journeys with the minimum of fuss.
“Nothing is more frustrating to an electric car driver than the sight of an out-of-order charge point, so the fact that there will be a commitment to having chargers ‘in service’ will make a big difference. The promise of clear pricing is also important as drivers are used to knowing what they’d be paying before filling up, thanks to petrol price ‘totems’ on forecourts.
“It should also go a long way towards showing would-be EV drivers that ‘range anxiety’ is a thing of the past, further speeding up the switch to electric.”
The Government recently announced a £20 million research and develoment competition to find solutions to the challenges associated with increasing the uptake of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and the necessary infrastructure.
It also set out the next steps towards its 2030 ban on the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and vans and the phase out of hybrids by 2035.