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Consultation on Government plans to 'simplify' EV charge points

Nissan Leaf, EV, electric vehicle, EV chargingg infrastructure, plug-in vehicles.

The Government wants charge point operators to make charging an electric vehicle (EV) no different to fuelling a petrol or diesel car.

A consultation, launched by Department for Transport (DfT) over the weekend, outlines a series of measures it believes could transform the charge point experience for EV drivers.

Key is interoperability, with the Government suggesting customers should be able to make a contactless payment, without having to download an app.

The consultation - The consumer experience at public electric vehicle charge points - also reveals how the Government wants to improve charge point reliability by forcing operators to respond to faults quickly and provide a 24/7 helpline for drivers.

“Standardisation to a pence-per-kilowatt hour (kWh) basis will enable a simpler pricing framework for all users.” 

Furthermore, it is proposing charge point operators have to make pricing information more readily available, along with location and power output data.

The Government says that this is essential for ensuring costs are fair, for driving competition, and for increasing the confidence of both existing EV drivers and those considering making the switch.

“These proposals will ensure that it’s as easy – or even easier – for drivers to charge their car as it is to refuel a petrol or diesel vehicle,” said the Department for Transport (DfT).

The consultation is also seeking evidence on three emerging policy areas: accessibility for disabled consumers; weatherproofing and lighting; and signage.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “In simple terms, drivers want charge points to be as easy and simple to use as a fuel pump.

“They don’t want to have a multitude of apps or membership cards, but the ability to simply understand how much it will cost them and pay by card.”

EV charge point pricing

By opening up chargepoint data, the Government believes it will enable the development of consumer-friendly apps and improve consumer experience.

It will also reduce costs by encouraging competition and innovation, and support system planning across the transport and electricity sectors, it says.

Fleet operators and company car drivers have long argued for a far simpler payment system for charge points.

The Association of Fleet Professionals, when ACFO, highlighted how ‘charge point anxiety’ could thwart the wider adoption of EVs

"We would caution against interventions that would stymie innovation that will benefit consumers," Daniel Brown, REA 

The consultation says that consumers should be able to understand and compare pricing offers across the UK network to select the best available price, as is currently the case for petrol and diesel vehicles.

“Standardisation to a pence-per-kilowatt hour (kWh) basis will enable a simpler pricing framework for all users,” it adds. “Providers would still be able to offer a range of bundled services tariffs.”

It’s an approach which, it says, will ensure alignment with the energy sector and the price of electricity used across the network, helping consumers compare how much they are paying at home with how much they are paying when they use the public charging network.

The Government says it is also essential that the charge point network is maintained, and faults are repaired quickly, to ensure a minimum 99% reliability across the charging infrastructure.

Daniel Brown, head of transport at the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), believes an open, reliable, and “simple-to-navigate” charging network is crucial to keep the confidence of drivers and fleets and take EVs into the mainstream.

“We welcome Government setting baseline expectations and ‘guard rails’ for the industry to deliver on,” he said.

“The EV charging sector, however, is a complex blend of telecoms, electricity provision, payments, real estate, and hardware and we would caution against interventions that would stymie innovation that will benefit consumers and be the backbone of emerging British brands.”

The consultation was launched at the same time as the DfT announced it would be expanding the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) to include small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and the charity sector for the first time.

In addition, it said that the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which provides up to £350 towards a charge point, will continue next year and be expanded to target people in rented and leasehold accommodation.

The consultation will run until April 10, 2021. Fleets can respond using the online form.

There will also be consultation workshops running throughout the consultation period. Anybody interested in attending these events, can contact consumerofferconsult@olev.gov.uk.

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