Calls for EV watchdog – industry reaction

Calls for a new regulatory body to monitor the electric vehicle (EV) market, including charging price levels and affordability – have come from the UK automotive sector this week. Transport + Energy brings you the industry reaction.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) wants there to be mandated targets for infrastructure rollout, backed by an independent regulator to keep consumers at the heart of planning. The group has published a new seven-point plan designed to drive collaboration between government, industry and all other stakeholders.

Connected Kerb – one of the UK’s leading on-street EV charging providers – supports the call for a more equitable distribution of EV chargers in the UK to tackle regional disparities in the EV transition.

CEO Chris Pateman-Jones said: “Regional disparities in public electric vehicle charging rollouts must not prevent drivers from realising the huge benefits of driving electric. Only by overcoming these disparities can we achieve a fair and equal transition to cleaner transport. We welcome the SMMT’s call for new standards that would guarantee social equity in provision of charge points and ensure no one is left behind in the UK’s electric vehicle transition.

“Councils and developers can often be put off installing electric vehicle charge points due to the perceived high up-front costs of installation and a lack of transparency over network performance and driver tariffs. Any new regulator should seek to cut through this confusion and encourage the use of large scale, long term contracts that measure operator performance, not only against economic, but also social and environmental targets. For the UK to deliver a full societal transition to EV, access to convenient, reliable and affordable charging infrastructure must be removed as a barrier to adoption, no matter where in the UK you happen to live.”

Patrick Reich, Co-founder of Bonnet, an electric charging platform simplifying payments, said: “There are fundamental issues surrounding public charging infrastructure in the UK, so the creation of an EV charging watchdog would support the drive towards EVs across the country.

“Currently, those living in properties without a private driveway are at a huge disadvantage due to lack of coverage and reliability of the UK’s public charging network. There is a growing north-south divide in EV charging coverage, while the government continues to charge 20 per cent VAT on public charging compared with 5 percent for at home charging.

“The lack of public charge points across the country is not an accurate reflection of the rate of EV uptake. While it’s encouraging to see the government announcing plans for market regulators like “Ofcharge”, it must act faster to improve charging infrastructure so that everyone is ready to move to electric by 2030.”

EV charging network operator Osprey described some of the commentary around EV charging points being unequally distributed regionally and outstripped by EV sales, as “flawed”.

In a statement the company said: “The statement that EV chargers are unevenly distributed is a bit like saying that hospital beds are unevenly distributed: you need context and the underlying data, i.e. population numbers for hospital beds, rather than geographic surface area.

“There are more EVs generally and higher demand where the public chargers are being installed. Data on EV locations can’t readily be obtained from registrations as many are registered with leasing companies or company head offices. Charge point operators (CPOs) can see where the car numbers and need is greatest from usage levels. At present, there are quite a few regions where public chargers are only used a handful of times per day, and others where there are undoubtedly insufficient public chargers for demand.

“A further issue with taking regional disparities at face value is that it ignores the fact that many EV owners in more rural or suburban areas are more able to charge at home. Urban dwellers and others without the benefit of off-street parking do need public charging. In short, there is no magic ratio of chargers to cars that is “enough”, it will depend on the individual characteristics of the region.

“Notwithstanding this, Osprey acknowledges we do need more public charging, and we and other CPOs are installing chargers throughout the UK, investing hundreds of millions of pounds of private money. Blanket government regulation will not be helpful. There are relatively straightforward things the government could do to help and which don’t need more valuable public money: mandating live charger availability data, wayleave powers for CPOs, planning guidelines promoting public charging, and the ability to install more lighting at sites to name a few.”

Image: Shutterstock.

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