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CMA electric vehicle charging investigation shifts focus

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation into electric vehicle (EV) charging has shifted its focus to ultra-rapid chargers and on-street charging.

In a progress report, released this week, it said that from the evidence it had received so far, there are “particular challenges” arising from charge point provision in certain settings.

It says it will continue to look broadly at the overall EV charging sector,  in terms of competition and investment, but it would now focus in more detail on en-route rapid/ultra-rapid charging, in particular on motorways, and on-street slow/fast local charging.

There also appear to be some issues around how consumers interact with both off-street home charging (on a driveway/in a garage) and public charging, which it said it intended to explore further.

The CMA launched its investigation into EV charging in December, saying that the UK’s charging infrastructure will be crucial to the increased adoption of EVs, especially with the Government bringing forward the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2030.

The UK currently has almost 20,000 charge points, up from around 1,500 in 2011 – although the CMA says that more will be needed in the future.

The CMA says it has received a range of views about the existing and potential challenges faced by EV drivers, both from consumers and organisations.

Respondents, it says in the progress report, raised concerns relating to current challenges for EV drivers in finding, accessing and paying for public charging.

They included issues around reliability and ease of access – concerns were raised about ongoing challenges accessing working charge points and that this remains a key concern for drivers – and the provision of up to date/accessible information.

In terms of interoperability, the CMA says that concerns over different connectors were raised, while users also complained about the complex nature of pricing with different tariffs, connection fees and subscriptions.

Respondents called for greater standardisation, with widespread support for simple pence per kWh pricing, as well removing the need for multiple cards and apps.

The CMA says evidence gathered so far also suggests a lack of support for new EV drivers. Many respondents said that understanding around EV charging (and EVs more generally) as well as the support available for consumers is still “relatively limited”, and many are reliant on manufacturers/car dealerships or through online forums.

The CMA says that a number of broader concerns relating to fairness and equality of access were also raised in responses received so far.

Many raised concerns around the potential difference in ease/affordability between those who can charge their car from a home charger and those who can’t, with the latter more reliant on local public charging.

Some respondents also raised concerns that drivers in these areas are more likely to be left behind and that targeted support may be needed to ensure there is sufficient public provision.

The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has recently published a consultation on the consumer experience at public EV charge points, which is also seeking views on improvements and looking at the introduction of regulations covering some of the concerns raised by respondents to the CMA inquiry.

It said it is working closely with OZEV and others in looking at these issues and potential measures to address them.

Anybody wishing to submit any information or raise any comments relevant to this work please contact EVCharging@cma.gov.uk.

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