All new UK rapid chargers must accept credit cards
Company car and van drivers will have easier access to fast electric vehicle chargers in the UK after the Government announced plans to make it compulsory for all new charge points to accept credit and debit cards by the spring of next year.
Until now, different charge point operators have been establishing their own networks of chargers, effectively obliging drivers to join multiple networks and use a variety of apps and cards to pay for charging.
Single payment method
However, the Government has announced that it expects the electric vehicle charging industry to develop a roaming solution across the nationwide charging network, allowing electric vehicle drivers to use any public charge point through a single payment method.
Michael Ellis, future of mobility minister, 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.”
BP Chargemaster to retrofit its fast chargers
BP Chargemaster, which runs the UK’s largest public charging network, was quick to react, committing to introduce card payment on all its new 50kW and 150kW chargers, and retrofitting its existing UK-made rapid chargers with contactless bank card payment technology within a year.
If other networks fail to deliver the payment improvements swiftly enough, the Government will pass legislation to enforce its policy, via the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act.
Home chargers must be smart chargers
In further moves, Government grants will only be available for ‘smart’ home charge points, which can reduce high peaks of electricity demand and minimise the impact of electric vehicles on the national grid. Smart chargers also keep down costs by supporting off-peak charging.
In addition, a public consultation will explore proposals that would ensure every new home built with a dedicated parking space has an electric vehicle charger.
These new initiatives develop the UK’s Road to Zero strategy, outlined last summer, which has a mission for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040.
Carbon neutral by 2050
In a wider move, the Government has pledged to commit the UK to carbon neutrality by 2050, and Vicky Edmonds, joint head of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, a team working across the British government to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles, said the transport sector is considered to be one of the sectors of the economy where the zero carbon goal is most readily achievable.
Electric and hybrid vehicles accounted for 2.6% of new car sales in the UK last year, but Edmonds expects them to achieve mass market status some time between 2022 and 2028. Today’s price differentials between battery electric cars and internal combustion engines, of about £10,000 (€11,000) are narrowing, and the total cost of ownership of zero emission vehicles is becoming increasingly competitive, she said.
40% of vans to be EVs
“By 2030 we expect to see at least half of all cars, and ideally 70%, to be ultra-low emission, as well as 40% of vans,” said Edmonds.
Last year OLEV reduced its grants for electric cars by £1,000 (€1,100) and cut them completely for some hybrids, but demand for battery power remains high, with sales 60% up year on year.
The bigger long-term challenge, added Edmonds, is not so much stimulating demand for electric vehicles, but providing the cable infrastructure to support rapid charging.