One of the biggest hurdles limiting the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK is the charging infrastructure, but announcements by the Government on Monday could make plugging in a zero-emissions car much easier in two year’s time.
The Department for Transport and Office for Low Emission Vehicles has called for all newly installed rapid chargepoints to allow for debit or credit card payments by spring 2020, rather than motorists having to pay multiple subscriptions and have activation cards to use the varying services on offer.
And as an extra boost, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling also confirmed a public consultation on changing building regulations in England to require all new properties to have an electric vehicle charger installed.
Tap and charge: All new public electric vehicle rapid chargers will need to accept one-off debit and credit card payments from 2020, says the government
The Government said it expects industry to develop a roaming solution across the charging network, allowing electric car drivers to pay to use any public chargepoint with a single payment method, without needing multiple smartphone apps or membership cards.
If not, it warned it would ‘intervene’ to ensure electric vehicle drivers will be able to use their debit and credit cards across the network.
The statement outlined the intentions, claiming: ”The Government has made clear that if the market is too slow to deliver improvements across the entire network it is prepared to intervene to ensure a good deal for consumers by using powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act.
‘Following regulation from government, improvements have already been made by operators, including increasing the accessibility of their chargepoints by offering payment via smartphone apps and contactless payment systems.’
So far the Government and UK motor industry have supported the installation of more than 20,000 public chargers across the country – of which 2,000 are rapid devices offering the shortest battery-replenishing times.
In May, data collated by website Zap-Map confirmed that there are now more locations where you can charge an electric car than there are petrol stations, with almost every motorway service area having at least one rapid chargepoint.
Most providers currently require users to have a membership and unique activation card to plug-in to their chargers
The figures revealed that – as of 22 May – there were 8,471 charging locations across the UK with a total of 13,613 individual plug-in points.
In comparison there were 8,400 petrol stations in the country on the same date.
Ministers hope the move to allow for card payments will increase confidence in the charging network and reduce range anxiety.
MPs are also working with the industry to make chargepoint data more freely available, helping drivers easily locate and access available chargepoints.
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.’
Business and Industry Minister, Andrew Stephenson, added: ‘Initiatives like this are essential as we move towards a net zero economy, making it easier than ever for people to own and use electric vehicles.
‘Investing in batteries, technology and infrastructure through our modern Industrial Strategy and Faraday battery challenge will ensure the UK leads the world in the global transition away from fossil fuels while supporting the future of our automotive industry.’
The UK’s biggest charger operator BP Chargemaster confirmed it will be taking card payments on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers with immediate effect
Coinciding with the announcement, the UK’s biggest charger operator BP Chargemaster confirmed it will be taking card payments on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers from today.
It will also retrofit its existing UK-made rapid chargers with the technology over the next 12 months, CEO David Newton confirmed.
‘As the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, including the greatest number of rapid chargers, we support the Government’s vision for all new rapid and ultra-fast chargers to support contactless bank card payment,’ he said.
‘We will be going one step further, not only by introducing this facility on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers from today, but also by committing to retrofit our existing UK-made rapid chargers with this technology over the next 12 months.’
The announcement is the latest effort by the government to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles by improving the charging infrastructure
Today’s statements follow the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that the Government wants to see the development of a high speed electric vehicle charging infrastructure nationally.
The Office for Low Emission Vehicles is set to lead a review on the vision for the network as part of a wider effort to encourage electric car take-up by improving the charging infrastructure.
Last week it was confirmed that electric vehicles would be exempt from any company car tax next year.
New-build homes could soon have chargepoints by law
All new-build homes could soon be fitted with an electric car chargepoint if a new public consultation receives widespread support, Transport Minister Chris Grayling said on Monday.
New homes with a dedicated car parking space would need to be built with an electric chargepoint – a world first requirement if the move is passed.
Mr Grayling said: ‘With record levels of ultra-low emission vehicles on our roads, it is clear there is an appetite for cleaner, greener transport.
‘Home charging provides the most convenient and low-cost option for consumers – you can simply plug your car in to charge overnight as you would a mobile phone.’
All new build homes with a parking space could soon be required to have an electric vehicle charger installed
AA president Edmund Kings said both government announcements regarding card payments and chargers for new-built homes were ‘a step in the right direction’.
He added: ‘It is encouraging that we will have an over-arching review to give a clearer picture of what is needed on the electric highway ahead.
‘We are pleased that our calls for rapid chargers to be accessed by all via debit and credit cards or contactless payment has been heeded.’
‘Three quarters (75 per cent) of drivers agree that new homes should cater for the EV revolution by having chargers installed during their construction.
‘We have long argued this point and are happy steps will be taken to encourage drivers to switch to electric.’
Earlier this month the government confirmed that all home chargepoints must include ‘smart technology’ to help drivers limit costs from next month.
Wall chargers installed at places of residence will require smart features that encourage cheaper, off-peak charging and minimise the impact of electric vehicles on the electricity system by reducing demand peaks, the DfT said.
From July 1, devices backed by the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme must be capable of being remotely accessed.
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