The first batch of 300 broken electric-car charger points in London will be fixed by summer, breaking the log-jam in repairs that has made owning an EV in London so troublesome.
Source London, which runs the network, has promised the repairs after a long-awaited new maintenance regime is unveiled later this week.
The announcement will name the first London boroughs that have signed-up for new maintenance contracts, handing full control to the French company that bought Source London from TfL last April.
"This will be the major step forward that will give us sole responsibility for maintenance at our cost," Source London boss Christophe Arnaud told Autocar.
Arnaud says Source London will start spending money on fixing broken chargers in the Boroughs who have signed up. Where the chargers can’t be fixed, he says they will be replaced with new equipment.
"We have done an audit and identified the 300 posts [chargers] that need repair or replacement. I have my hit list for repair by the summer," he said.
"We have prepared everything we need for this: spare parts, warehouse, engineers. We are aiming at 99% operability," added Arnaud.
However, Chargemaster - the biggest supplier of charging points - remains sceptical that maintenance issues can be solved fast enough to keep EV drivers moving.
"We are fixing our charging points at Chargemaster’s cost and have a very high operational level. Source London has been saying that it’s not their problem, but it jolly well is," said David Martell, boss of Chargemaster.
Arnaud says Source London will address concerns by planning two further stages of repair in autumn and winter, based on the next wave of boroughs expected to sign up to the new maintenance regime later this year.
A new feature will be centralised monitoring of each post, through the Source London control centre, which requires many charging posts to be fitted with a new communications ‘black box’ and involving building works at the road-side.
However, better reliability will come at some cost to EV drivers because later this year Source London plans to introduce parking charges for each bay.
Charges will be scaled according to TfL’s zones 1-6 used to calculate tube and bus fares, although the exact tariff has yet to be revealed.
"It will cost us more in central London than outer London, so we will set our charges accordingly," said Arnaud.
One report suggests a charge of up to £5 an hour in central London, although Source London won’t confirm that number.
The London charging network has faced reliability problems because maintenance was shared between the boroughs and charging point manufacturers, with a budget of just £480 per year per post. This has resulted in very poor reliability, with around one third of the 1400 charger points out of service.
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