Government to enforce new rules to make car charging more accessible to motorists and open up market access to charging providers

Sam Dickerson

12 Mar 2021

Current infrastructure inadequate to cope with rising number of EV users before Government's 2030 ban on new sales of combustion engine vehicles.


The Department for Transport has said that it plans to increase the availability of charging points for motorists using electric vehicles (EVs) by having a minimum of six high-powered charging points at every motorway service in the UK by 2023.


Plans including larger service station sites having up to 12 charging points providing speeds of up to 350kW. 


Speaking to Electrifying.com, Transport Minister Rachel Maclean explained the Government's plans and said that the number will increase to at least 2,500 high-powered chargers across the strategic road network by 2030 and 6,000 charging points by the year 2035.


As things stand, Ecotricity, a company owned by Dale Vince, a British "green energy" industrialist, dominates the UK's electric charging market at motorway service stations. 


Regular users of Ecotricity's charge points have criticised the service saying it is outdated and has unreliable hardware which undermines confidence in longer journeys for motorists using EVs, with Maclean explaining the Government would use legal powers to ensure the charging points were reliable and accessible.​​


Ecotricity's Electric Highway was recently rated as the worst electric vehicle charging network in Zap-Map's - a service that enables drivers to locate and update EV charge points in the UK and Ireland - annual satisfaction rankings for 2020.


Zap-Map gave Ecotricity a ranking of two stars out of five, whilst Tesla's charging point facilities came out on top scoring 4.8 out of five. 


The Competition and Markets Authority, which actively promotes competition for the benefit of consumers, both within and outside the UK, has launched a study into the electric vehicle charging market in the UK.


Maclean said: "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 CMA is considering how to develop the EV charging sector and open it up to competition, while also attracting investment to help the sector grow across motorway and A-roads alike.


Rod Dennis, a spokesman for the RAC, said: "This is extremely welcome 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. 


"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.


"Nothing is more frustrating to an electric car driver than the sight of an out-of-order charge point, so the fact 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," he added.


Maclean also addressed the issue of many homeowners without drives or parking not having access to on-street EV charging, saying: "We have doubled the funding available to local councils to improve charging infrastructure. What I would say to anyone listening to this who thinks ‘I haven’t got one near my house' is to get in touch with your local council.


"We in central government have made this money available but some of it is not being spent, which is a real shame," Maclean added.


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Sam Dickerson

12 Mar 2021