Call for electric car charge watchdog to regulate prices

Call for electric car charge watchdog to regulate prices
The UK motor industry is calling for an independent watchdog to regulate electric car charging prices and improve the availability of charge points.

Trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) wants the Government to set up a new regulator called Ofcharge (the Office of Charging) to monitor the electric vehicle (EV) market.

Its proposal for a national co-ordinated strategy to improve Britain’s EV charging infrastructure includes mandating targets for boosting the network of chargers in every part of the UK. It also wants to see transparent pricing and minimum standards for consumers enforced.

Figures from the SMMT show that plug-in vehicles accounted for more than one in six new cars registered in the UK last year. But the growth in EV sales is outstripping the rollout of charging points, particularly in the north of England compared with the south.

In a statement, the SMMT said that public chargers “remain critical to consumer confidence and are still relied upon by many commercial fleets, as well as the third of British households that do not have designated off-street parking”. 

The aim of the plan is to ensure motorists are better prepared for the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said the industry “needs more than automotive investment” to achieve a smooth transition to EVs.

He said: “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 charge point network that makes electric mobility a reality for all, cutting emissions, driving growth and supporting consumers across the UK.”

Research published last month found that electric car owners face a “postcode lottery” when it comes to the cost of using council-owned charging points.

Data for more than 400 councils obtained by British Gas showed 21 councils across England and Wales allow drivers to top up their batteries for free, while motorists in other areas are charged up to £4 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

A Department for Transport spokesperson said the Government is providing more than £1.3 billion to support the expansion of the charging network and will publish its EV infrastructure plan soon.

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