UK Automakers Call for EV Charging Watchdog Promoting Uptake

Automakers in the UK are calling for an independent watchdog to monitor public electric car charging costs.

The move will cause some in the ICE lobby to wonder why BEVs should be getting preferential treatment against profiteering when it has been going on for decades among vehicle fuel suppliers with no intervention at a government level. UK motorist lobby groups, such as the RAC and FairFuel, have made several calls for such a body to regulate unfair fuel hikes by suppliers who then fail to pass on reductions when oil barrel prices dip.

Nonetheless, the BEV lobby are hoping for a helping hand by the government keen to meet its target of banning all new ICE powered vehicle sales by 2030. To this end the UK representative for its automotive industry, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), is making the call for price protection for owners of EVs.

It has published a new seven-point plan hoping to ensure public provision of energy from public charging infrastructure can be kept within “affordable” limits. The plan askes the government to:

  • Embed consumer-centricity in policy and a national plan on charging infrastructure;
  • Develop and implement a nationally coordinated but locally delivered infrastructure plan;
  • Invest significantly to uplift all types of charging infrastructure, particularly public chargers, ahead of need;
  • Set binding targets to ensure adequate public chargepoint provision and social equity;
  • Enact proportionate regulation to deliver the best outcomes for consumer experience and expansion of provision;
  • Provide adequate enabling support to incentivize and facilitate delivery of charging infrastructure;
  • Ensure electricity networks are future-proofed and fit for purpose for zero emission mobility.

Of course, no such measures exist for owners of ICE powered vehicles and further incentivizes BEV ownership over even the cleanest fuel-based alternatives. The SMMT says demand for electric vehicles has surged while standard public charging infrastructure has struggled to keep pace.

It also calls for the creation of a new regulatory body, ‘Ofcharge’ (the Office of Charging), to monitor the market, including charging price levels and affordability, and to enforce regulated minimum standards. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The automotive industry is up for the challenge of a zero emission new car and van market by 2035. Delivering this ambition – an ambition that would put the UK ahead of every major market in the world – needs more than automotive investment. It needs the commensurate commitment of all other stakeholders, especially the charging industry as surveys show that range anxiety has been replaced by charging anxiety.

“Our plan puts the consumer at the heart of this transition, assuring them of the best possible experience backed by an independent regulator. With clear, equivalent targets and support for operators and local authorities that match consumer needs, government can ensure the UK has a chargepoint network that makes electric mobility a reality for all, cutting emissions, driving growth and supporting consumers across the UK.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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