The government wants rapid charging to be easily accessible to motorists.

The government wants all new electric vehicle rapid charging points to offer drivers the ability to pay using a credit or debit card by next year.

In an announcement, the Department for Transport (DfT) said all new charge points “should” offer the facility by the spring of 2020. The government says it “expects” the charging industry to develop a “pay-as-you-go” payment option across the charging network, ensuring drivers do not need a range of smartphone apps or membership cards to charge their vehicles.

At present, many charging points require some form of membership, with customers using cards or apps to log in and access the charging point. The customer’s account is then charged for the electricity the car consumes.

Electric car charging

Michael Ellis, the Secretary of State for Transport and MP for Northampton North, said the existing payment mechanisms were frustrating existing electric vehicle (EV) owners, and solving the problem would encourage more people to go electric.

“The government’s vision is for the UK to have one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world, but we know the variety of payment methods at the moment is a source of frustration for drivers,” he said. “It is crucial there are easy payment methods available to improve electric vehicle drivers’ experiences and give drivers choice. This will help even more people enjoy the benefits electric vehicles bring and speed up our journey to a zero-emission future.”

2016 Nissan Leaf charging

While the DfT’s statement does not explicitly say companies will be required to offer card payment by next spring, the government has warned the industry that it will “intervene” if it feels “the market is too slow to deliver improvements across the entire network”. However, one charging provider, BP Chargemaster, has already promised to introducing card payment on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers from today (July 15). It will also retrofit the technology to its existing rapid chargers over the coming year.

Charging electric vehicle

David Newton, CEO at BP Chargemaster, said: “As the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, including the greatest number of rapid chargers, we support the government’s vision for all new rapid and ultra-fast chargers to support contactless bank card payment.

“We will be going one step further, not only by introducing this facility on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers from today, but also by committing to retrofit our existing UK-made rapid chargers with this technology over the next 12 months.”

BP Chargemaster charging station