Chargemaster will become the first major provider to start charging for using its EV charge points from April, prompting anger from motorist groups

The majority of electric vehicle charging points in the UK will move to become paid-for within the next year, making it harder to charge electric vehicles for free.

Chargemaster, which in April will become the first major electric vehicle charging point provider to start making motorists pay to use its sites, says the move has been prompted by the end of the Government-supported Plugged in Places scheme later this month.

The Plugged in Places intiative matched private funding to support the building and use of EV charging points. Its end means many more EV charging point providers will move to a paid-for plan over the coming year.

Chargemaster boss David Martell said the plan needn't dissuade motorists from using electric vehicles. "It's simple," he said. "This is happening not just in the UK but all over the world. In the Netherlands until last year charging points were free and now it's chargeable. You can't get away from it. If you want public charging points someone has to pay not only for the electricity but also for the maintenance and investment. 

"This is a positive step because it means there'll be more and better-maintained charging sites."

Chargemaster stressed that the majority of its 3000-strong charging point network will remain free when the switch begins. Around 20 per cent of the network will become paid-for initially, with more sites joining in the coming months.

Charges for the firm's Polar network of EV charge points allow motorists to either pay a monthly direct debit or annual subscription or use a smartphone app. Using the app, prices for using a charging point equate to £1.20 per hour on a standard 13amp tariff, £1.70 per hour on an advanced Type 2 tariff, and £7.50 per half hour for a rapid charge.

However, the move has angered some electric vehicle organisations. Board member of the Electric Vehicle Driver's Association Brian Orr said: "These charges are absurdly high and seem to be contrary to everything up until now. The charging can be much more expensive than running a petrol car. It's a total setback."

Statistics seen by Autocar show that for every £1 spent on charging, 42p covers the cost of electricity while around 41p is needed to cover maintenance, provisions for new sites, spare parts and call centres.

In London, the current network of around 1400 charging points will be expanded to 6000 by 2018 as the French Bollore Group takes over the network's management from the middle of this year. The Group recently launched its car-sharing scheme in the capital, an electric car rival to the 'Boris Bike'.

The Office for Low Carbon Vehicles has been contacted for comment.

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Comments
14

17 March 2014
These poor electric car owners in London, not only dont they have to pay congestion charge or road tax like most car owners now they are expected to actually pay to charge their cars!! How will they cope!

17 March 2014
As a fan of EVs, I'm glad to see them being brought onto a level playing field - no more can the naysayers accuse them of having an unfair advantage of 'free fuel'. Pretty much every study shows that 90+% of charging will happen at home (on whatever energy tariff you have), so public charging will be a bit like buying a cup of coffee - more expensive than making it at home, but it's your choice about paying for the convenience! At least, unlike petrol and diesel cars, you can 'refuel' at home - still a huge cost advantage. Diesel fuel costs about 11 pence per mile for the average car, assuming it actually achieves its NEDC figure, which it probably won't. Chargemaster's costs only seem to get close to that figure on the PAYG 13-amp option, which will be very rarely used, I would imagine. Using a Nissan Leaf using 0.240 kWh/mile, the subscription rates for rapid charging work out at between 4 pence and 7 pence per mile - so still considerably cheaper than a very new, efficient diesel!

17 March 2014
sirwilliam wrote:

As a fan of EVs, I'm glad to see them being brought onto a level playing field - no more can the naysayers accuse them of having an unfair advantage of 'free fuel'. Pretty much every study shows that 90+% of charging will happen at home (on whatever energy tariff you have), !

I was just about to type and you've pretty much summed up my thoughts exactly. Going forward people will be less and less likely to use public charge points as the electric range of plug-in and EV cars increases. So this will be pretty much a non-story in 5-10 years.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

17 March 2014
sirwilliam wrote:

As a fan of EVs, I'm glad to see them being brought onto a level playing field - no more can the naysayers accuse them of having an unfair advantage of 'free fuel'. Pretty much every study shows that 90+% of charging will happen at home (on whatever energy tariff you have), so public charging will be a bit like buying a cup of coffee - more expensive than making it at home, but it's your choice about paying for the convenience! At least, unlike petrol and diesel cars, you can 'refuel' at home - still a huge cost advantage. Diesel fuel costs about 11 pence per mile for the average car, assuming it actually achieves its NEDC figure, which it probably won't. Chargemaster's costs only seem to get close to that figure on the PAYG 13-amp option, which will be very rarely used, I would imagine. Using a Nissan Leaf using 0.240 kWh/mile, the subscription rates for rapid charging work out at between 4 pence and 7 pence per mile - so still considerably cheaper than a very new, efficient diesel!

Surely thats if your actually getting the range out of the electric car. Most are quoted as being able to do 100-120mile on a single charge but only getting 80miles for example. Not just the petrols and diesels not living up to their official MPG/Range.

17 March 2014
sirwilliam wrote:

As a fan of EVs, I'm glad to see them being brought onto a level playing field - no more can the naysayers accuse them of having an unfair advantage of 'free fuel'. Pretty much every study shows that 90+% of charging will happen at home (on whatever energy tariff you have), so public charging will be a bit like buying a cup of coffee - more expensive than making it at home, but it's your choice about paying for the convenience! At least, unlike petrol and diesel cars, you can 'refuel' at home - still a huge cost advantage. Diesel fuel costs about 11 pence per mile for the average car, assuming it actually achieves its NEDC figure, which it probably won't. Chargemaster's costs only seem to get close to that figure on the PAYG 13-amp option, which will be very rarely used, I would imagine. Using a Nissan Leaf using 0.240 kWh/mile, the subscription rates for rapid charging work out at between 4 pence and 7 pence per mile - so still considerably cheaper than a very new, efficient diesel!

Your estimate of 4 to 7 pence per mile cost of electricity compared with your estimate of 11 pence per mile for a diesel car fails to take into account the way they are both taxed.
Diesel has duty applied at the rate of £0.58 per litre then VAT is charged at 20% upon the total.
Currently I pay £1.37 per litre retail for diesel. The diesel costs about £0.56 per litre after all the taxes and costs applied to its extraction, refining and transportation. The government adds £0.58 per litre duty than charges VAT at 20% on the total giving the retail price of about £1.37 per litre.
For a domestic supply the only tax is VAT applied at 5%. If electric cars were to become popular in the UK then the government would be looking to recoup huge amounts of tax income lost through the switch from fossil fuels. indeed the idea of "free" charging of electric cars ending through the government stopping paying for it is only the tip of the iceberg if electric car sales took off. Imagine how popular electric would be when the electricity is more expensive, after taxes, than fossil fuels are currently added to the higher purchase price of an electric car. Remember electricity comes mostly from fossil fuels with only a tiny amount from even more expensive renewables.

maxecat

17 March 2014
People with electric cars will have to pay for the fuel/energy used to drive them. Welcome to the world the rest of us occupy.

289

17 March 2014
...why on earth would EV owners expect to receive free charging... it would have to be paid for somewhere, presumably by us poor sops.
Do they really expect to be subsidised by everyone else to justify their purchase decision?
And why only 20% of the network charged out...it should be 100%!

17 March 2014
I looked long and hard at BMW's new i3. I really wanted it to work....but it just doesn't. Living in suburbia with a drive I was the perfect prospect : I could charge overnight on my own property, I could nip into London free of congestion charge and then.......it all stopped. So, if I have the non-extender version of the i3 (and I really do....) then if I want to do an A to B to C and back to A trip that day, I've got to re-charge either by (1) finding a free charger within reasonable reach and (2) leaving it there for hours til the car's ready to roll. Result: my schedule is knackered.

The problem with 'full electric cars' is charging through-put ....and the lack of outlets. It takes a fossil-fuel vehicle to 're-charge' completely in, let's say, 10 minutes absolute max. A filling station with 8 pumps can therefore brim 48 cars per hour and that's with full tanks with an average range of 500 miles (based on a family hatchback). It takes upto 4 hours to fully re-charge one BMW i3. That means for every one solitary 're-charging slot' for the i3 the same fossil 're-fuelling slot' services.....wait for it.......24 cars !!!.....And that's without compounding the problem by adding the mulitple of '4' because the fossil-fuel cars can travel 4 times as far before they 'clog up' another re-filling bay. So, the fossil fuel car as an average of 'space-used-per-refuelling-event' is nearly 100 times more effective. All we need to remedy this is to take all the filling stations in central and greater London and multiply them by 100 times and we'll then have enough through-put for electric re-charging........Of course, that's never going to happen. If manufacturers don't sort the range or the re-charging times then we're blighted with hybrids and we'll never have full electric cars in the next 20 years. I suspect the i3 might turn out to be a superbly executed dud......unless you spend £ 3.1K on a 600cc combustion engine which kind of defeats the object, no ? The A3 e-tron looks positively sensible by comparison.

BertoniBertone

17 March 2014
I think EVs should charge for free. But only if i can have unlimited petrol for free too.

17 March 2014
I don't think anyone reasonably saw that public charging points were going to be free indefinitely. In fact when you park and charge an EV you have two benefits. First there is the fact that you're parking the vehicle and secondly that you're charging it.

BertoniBertone's argument is a good one but not necessarily complete. For an owner of space for parking a car I presumably have two choices - charge for a space without charging or charge more for the same parking + charging. Owners of EV also have 2 choices - pay for parking with or without charging.

After that it comes down to supply and demand (and relative prices). If we assume that car parking space is limited, and we assume that car park owners (even if that owner is a council) want to ensure charging spots are only used EVs using them for charging (greater revenue per hour) then initially we'll see more and more space devoted to EV charging at least at a rate where profit for providing a charging space is higher than a non-charging space. Occupancy rate here is a key factor.

As the charging spaces increases then non-charging spaces fall making it more and more expensive to park a non charging vehicle encouraging more people to switch to EVs.

Outside towns, where people have less reason to park then charging might still be paid, e.g. by cafe owners who want EV owners to spend some time in their cafes.

It's not hard to build a simulation model to see a tipping point in EV ownership in city centres based on availability of car park spaces.

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