Technology is meant to make people’s lives easier, but it would seem that the management responsible for creating the electric vehicle charging network in the UK forgot this. There are different operators, and each has its own payment system, so it has not been easy for the EV drivers so far.
But things are changing now. The government interfered in 2019 and said that all newly installed rapid or higher-powered charge points must accept card payments. The government intended to provide the drivers with one payment method, so they won’t need smartphone apps or membership cards.
The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) have been working on this as well. They looked into EV charging to address any competition issues, they intended to ensure the sector works fine for the customers now and in the future. The boss gave a pretty long statement but what interested us the most was him saying that stopping at a petrol station is a part of a journey, and customers should know what the electric charging points would also allow them to do so.
Our first goal was to know how far we are, and how much would it take to reach there. We focused on Milton Keynes, which is among the best-served towns, as it provides 22 chargers per EV. This is a system, which is now available in many cars as standard.
The results were varying. But, it gave us a pretty good idea of what a first-time EV user would face when he is charging on the road.
What we discovered was it’s a gamble, and it would remain so unless contactless payment is available widely. They need to provide access to up-to-date, reliable information that shows whether the charger is working and available, and we should also know where it is located. Although things are not perfect right now, we hope they will get better very soon.