A group of EV charging providers have announced that they are to launch a roaming scheme that will open their UK networks up to each others’ customers.
The move means that by the end of 2019 British electric car drivers will be able to use a public charger without having to sign up to that specific network’s membership scheme.
There are currently almost 40 charging networks in Britain, ranging from major pan-European operators to small regional setups. Most of these require drivers to sign up to the providers’ membership scheme in order to use the chargers, meaning motorists often have to manage multiple accounts or go out of their way to find their network’s chargers.
In a letter of intent, the group of nine providers say they want to make it easier for drivers to access charging infrastructure, in order to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
Those involved in the plan include Allego, EVBox, NewMotion, Chargemap, ChargePoint, Charge4Europe, Engenie, Franklin Energy, and Travelcard who between them have thousands of charging locations in Britain and across Europe.
The announcement comes two months after the Government called on charging point operators to develop a roaming solution to make payments simpler for drivers.
At the moment, different networks have different ways of operating. Some charge an annual or monthly subscription fee while others charge per use, with varying prices. Many require drivers to use an RFID card or smartphone app to access the charger and to make payments although some allow users to pay on the spot with a credit or debit card.
More user-friendly joined-up networks around Europe have been credited with helping make EVs more attractive to motorists and Christopher Burghardt, managing director for Europe at ChargePoint he hoped it would have the same impact in the UK.
He said: “This agreement is a significant step in the expansion of access to public charging, improving the driver experience, and helping to make the switch to e-mobility more seamless for UK drivers. Roaming agreements not only allow us to expand our global footprint, it is also another example of how collaboration across the industry is key to a greener, more sustainable electric future.”
Under the new scheme, which is expected to be operational later this year, EV drivers in the UK will only require a single subscription to access public charging stations operated by any of the signatories.
As well as accepting each other’s subscribers, the operators will share charging station information, which they say will make it easy for drivers to see where and if a charge point is availableand what a charging session will cost at the specific location.
In July, Future of Mobility Minister Michael Ellis said that from 2020 all new EV rapid chargers will be required to accept debit/credit card payments for pay-as-you-go access, saying the current variety of methods were a source of frustration.
The UK Government has said that by 2040 the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned, with the Scottish Government setting a target of 2032, necessitating a move to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles.