UK Considers Adoption Of Common Pricing For Public Chargers

3 weeks ago by Mark Kane 18

New Ecotricity program charges £6 for a 30 min boost in the UK

New Ecotricity program charges £6 for a 30 min boost in the UK

The UK government is apparently considering actions to make public charging more affordable, and a lot simpler.

Essentially, there could be pricing cap, or at the very least common pricing guidelines, with one access card for all networks.

Chargemaster charging point in UK

Chargemaster charging point in UK

Details are expected be announced early next year.

“Overpriced electric car charging stations will be clamped down in the new year by the government, after fears that high prices are putting off buyers of electric and hybrid cars and making them as expensive to run as diesels.”

Currently there are various charging networks in the country. Ecotricity for example offers 30 minute boost for £6 (“cost is free as part of Ecotricity’s home energy customer subscription”).

Chargemaster (non-subscribers) can use fast charger for up to £7 per half hour. There is also subscription option £7.85 per month (access to all charging stations including the 5000 that are free”).

According to the article, some stations costs up to £7.50 for a half-hour charge.

A spokesperson from the Department for Transport told The Times:

“The number of ultra-low emission vehicles on our roads are at record levels and we want to see a reliable and hassle-free public charging network so the sector can continue to grow.

“We are looking at ways to make public chargepoints more convenient for motorists, such as simplifying memberships, making pricing more consistent and transparent and making chargepoints easier to operate.”

source: Autocar

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18 responses to "UK Considers Adoption Of Common Pricing For Public Chargers"

  1. Nero says:

    Don’t remember location, but one of Polar chargers cost £8/session. No matter are you on Instant or PolarPlus

  2. David Murray says:

    Let capitalism work. More companies with competition will bring down the price. Fixing prices will just mean nobody will want to build any more stations.

    1. Ambulator says:

      Fixing prices is probably a bad idea, but there are measures that will make comparisons easier. You could insist that the price be visible from the road and mandate a common interval for pricing, perhaps an hour or minute.

      1. Ziv says:

        David and Ambulator beat me to the punch. Putting a ceiling on charge rates, especially early on, is a good way to restrict the growth of new charge stations.
        But the idea that the charge rate should be easily obtained, either on plugshare or with a sign visible from the street, makes a lot of sense. If it worked for gas stations, it would probably help for charging stations as well.
        Trying to mandate price controls or to legislate results are seldom productive.

    2. terminaltrip421 says:

      that assumes that both there isn’t a profit to be had at the fixed price and that companies would go to the effort of competing in the first place.

  3. SparkEV says:

    Price control in the name of “affordable” is sure fire way to create shortages, long lines, poor service, even black market. Big reason why there were long lines at gas stations during 1970’s oil crisis was due to price control.

    They should just let it be, but insist on having cleared marked pricing. Those companies that charge too much will be out of business or only serve rarely used route. It’s better to have something than nothing when you’re out of charge. Towing vs charging, what’s cheaper?

    1. Mike I. says:

      “Towing vs charging, what’s cheaper?”

      That depends. Some cars like the US e-Golf come with up to 100 miles of towing. One guy came up 1 mile short of a fast charger and instead of asking for a tow just to that charger, he simply asked to be towed 80 miles home. It turned out much faster because the tow truck drove 70mph down the interstate instead of him charging, then driving, then charging again, then driving the rest of the way home. Of course, if he had made it to the fast charger in the first place, he would have been ahead because he would not have to wait for the tow truck at all…

  4. No being quite sure or informed of costs to install a DC Quick Charger, is the best way to make complaints about the cost to use one – so – maybe the installers should be required to be more transparent as to installation costs and operating costs, profit margins, etc?

    Since – as far as I know – most DC QC’s cost about the same as a Gas Pump, but a new gas station in town comes in and puts in new pumps, or an old gas station upgrades, buying new pumps, and son’t necessarily price gauge!

    Also – the recent Utility install of chargers in California seems to take the cost of a $50,000 Charger – and more than Triple that cost for installing by the time it is running!

    It is really a challenge – since there is no standard ‘Box’ that an installer can just buy, dig & pour Footings, and then mount it that gives 2, 4, 6, or 8 DC QC Charging Points, with Easy Hook ups to the high power needed, without more things added, like Transformers, Permits, Siting and Zoning Fees, Inspections, Paperwork and Bureaucratic Delays, etc!

    Maybe the Government could clean up some of those challenges, along with making the process more streamlined, as well as transparent!

    1. For Example – does the Government manage, or Regulate the Power Companies? Have they not, in 5 years, instructed them to map out all the places possible to easily add Public Charging Facilities, based on – most available power, least distance to access the power, most beneficial nearby facilities for Vehicles Charging (Restrooms, Food Services, Accommodation, WiFi, etc.), and if not, why not?

      Having all the local power companies, if it is like Ontario, Canada, with so many different LDC’s or Local Distribution Companies, get their act together, and map out their own districts, of course is maybe harder than if it is just one large operator, like maybe in BC with BC Hydro, but maybe not! I have heard sometimes Ready to Go Tesla Superchargers waited much over 6 weeks to get the final approval from BC Hydro, so – I wonder how much such delays cost companies that are installing DC QC’s?

  5. Also – just as Airlines, Cruise Ships, and other players like Couriers – offer lower prices for less rush, more advance planning, and lower volume demand routes, maybe the rates for Charging Stations should be based more or less on the amount of traffic they actually get – and thin or least use routes then are less pricey, and busy routes more pricey?

    Maybe – they just don’t have the ability to figure out where are EV’s going, and when, to anticipate the challenges, it seems like even Tesla – with on-board Navigation, and knowledge of each cars movements, can’t (yet) direct the cars to less busy charging points, or adjust their speed so as to go beyond a busy charging station to one that they might not otherwise reach, but would be less busy!

    I suppose, like out local mall has recently added, in their new parking areas, systems to track, and monitor, the number of filled parking stalls, and post the number for each lot at the parking Entrances on large LED Digital Signs, that auto update the numbers of spaces available in each area, based on slots being filled or vacated!

    I have long suggested, to avoid ICE’ing, either by ICE Vehicles, or EV’s that are EV Holes (Parking, without charging!) that the actual charging station could, or should, monitor their own spots, and if a vehicle pulls up, but does not initiate a charge in 5 minutes, it has a photo taken of the vehicle, and if a front plate or rear plate is showing, (or even maybe not), said photo is submitted to parking control, for ticketing.

    Same Technology, could be used to determine % of Busy Charging Stations, and lover time – even anticipate the % of Busy Stalls on a given day or date! Periods when Stalls are seldom used, could drop the Charging Rate to attract Traffic, and periods when chargers are too busy, could increase charging rates, to encourage the use of less busy charging stations!

    Airlines do this by offering advance booking discount rates, couriers do this by offering cheaper rates for longer delivery times, and power companies are doing this with ‘Time of Use’ billing, so basically – things in demand cost more, and things not in demand – cost less.

    That is a normal thing, but – it works best when there is enough supply, so that demand is not artificially high, due to lack of decent supply! Note the recent price manipulations of the OPEC Pumping Rates!

    1. Trollnonymous says:

      One of the things I noticed is that Tesla SC’s have at least 6-7 stalls but these CCS/CHAdeMO fast charges have only one of each and some can only be used exclusively as one and the other not active till done. Sure there may be a bunch within 25 miles of each other but typically only one can be used.

      If you go to malls where most spend at least an hour there along with 1000+ other people you’ll notice only 2 maybe 3 at the most with minimum AC L2 (3.3KW) stations.

      What really needs to be done is get new EV’s up to a minimum of a AC L2 10-15KW charge rate and bring the charge stations to that level.

      AC L2 (3.3KW) stations should be at hotels.

  6. JyBicycleOrTesla says:

    Instead of regulations, the government can setup their own charging infrastructure to compete with these overchargers.

  7. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    This would be counterproductive. A competitive market will promote competition and over time will bring prices down.

    Price fixing might look like a good short-term solution, but in most cases, in the long run it’s a self-defeating strategy. There are exceptions, but I don’t see any valid reason for this to be one of them.

  8. rad says:

    Bad idea. When Atlanta was forced to do emission testing, they set a maximum of $25. Everybody charged $25. It was 15 years before someone offered $24,23… Now, $13-$15 is common.

    Posting the price as gas stations do would allow comparison.

  9. Just_Chris says:

    Check out uswitch https://www.uswitch.com

    This is likely what will happen with the charging networks. The uk government will probably mandate that charging is sold by a given unit or units. The charging networks will be added to uswitch (a government comparison web site) and people will be able to compare how much charging costs from different suppliers. The maximum or mandated rates will only come into play if it appears that the market isn’t functioning properly. An example being the roaming charges for mobile phones across the EU that were unreasonably high across all networks. In that instance it was the EU that mandated a cap on international roaming chargers but the uk government could do something similar with cross network car charging or use of chargers without a subscription.

    The uk government could also insist that tesla allow other cars to use the supercharger network but I doubt they would do this as there is no reason why another car company couldn’t build a network that only their cars could use. It would probably only happen if tesla could use their existing network to block installation of new networks or if they received government money to build their network, neither of which I believe is true.

    The important thing is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking advantage of customers at the moment which means that this review will most likely just tidy up a few things that will make life easier for people to understand what their options are but I can’t see any massive shifts in the law in this space.

    1. Just_Chris says:

      Sorry my mistake uswitch is not a government website and is only regulated via a voluntary code of conduct but ofgem has more information on price comparison, example:

      https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/how-switch-energy-supplier-and-shop-better-deal

      in a similar way to the above I could see information provided on various car charging networks.

  10. BrCr says:

    The full cost of installation of a 50 kW DC charger is about £40k according to the RCN Porject Study Report. That’s probably going to be amortised over a 5-7 year period, which could be considered optimistic given the rate of change of the technology and the poor reliability of the chargers seen thus far. On top of that, there’s the energy cost, service and maintenance, and all of the business related overheads like the back-office IT system for monitoring and controlling the chargers remotely, the call centre, the cost of handling the financial transactions, etc.

    The UK government generally appears to be in favour of competitive liberalised markets over highly regulated markets. The idea that the cost of a 50 kW charger can be recouped by charging anything close to the energy cost alone is completely ill informed. No network operators are making money yet on public charging, most are running on the fact that infrastructure has been heavily subsidised, or they’re looking for managed-service contracts which will cover much of the OpEx.

    There essentially is no sustainable business case at present for the installation of 50 kW chargers and the provision of a professional level of service around their operation and maintenance, as the energy delivery is too low to recoup the very high CapEx. Without government or OEM subsidy, business cases only really start to look manageable when you get to 150 kW and upwards.

    One key idea that’s often put forward is that when you use a 50 kW+ charger, you’re not paying for the energy, you’re paying for access to the higher power level and the added convenience (or increased utility in economic terminology) that it provides.

    1. Brandon says:

      You are right on… Exactly right!!!

      I can agree with averything you said… I say that as a fast charge network advocate and writer.

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