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Roaming agreements between UK EV charge point operators

Leading electric vehicle charge point operators in the UK have agreed to make their networks open to drivers who are members of other networks, in order to make it easier to charge EVs.

A group of Europe’s leading smart charging solutions providers have today signed a letter of intent pledging to open their networks for drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK through a roaming partnership by the end of 2019. Initiators of this initiative to open up the charging infrastructure are Allego, EVBox and NewMotion. Together with Chargemap, ChargePoint, Charge4Europe, Engenie, Franklin Energy and Travelcard they want to make a statement on how easy access to charging infrastructure will help improve the switch to e-mobility for drivers in this region.

When implemented, the agreement will mean EV drivers in the UK only require a single subscription to access public charging stations operated by any of the signatories. In addition to accepting each other’s subscribers, the operators will share charging station information so data can be used to improve the charging experience for customers. This will make it easy for EV drivers to see where and if a charge point is available for charging and what a charging session will cost at the specific charge point. 

This letter of intent represents a significant step forward for public charging infrastructure in the UK, which currently trails behind other European markets in terms of interoperability agreements. Currently, EV drivers need memberships to multiple different operators to be able to fully access every available public charge point. This has created an inconsistent experience for customers, whereas a more joined-up, consumer friendly public charging network could make EVs more desirable. Moreover, interoperability agreements in markets such as the Netherlands, France and Germany have been accredited with fuelling the switch over to EVs. 

Creating a more joined-up and coherent public charging network is especially critical for the UK, which has stated an intention to remove traditional combustion engine vehicles from its roads by 2040. On a European level it is expected that by 2025 there will need to be at least 1.2 million public charging stations to meet the growing need for EV charging. 

Speaking on the announcement, Matt Western MP stated “As Chair of the APPG on Electric Vehicles, I support this move – which will make it easier for drivers to charge up their electric vehicles, and therefore, make the purchase and maintenance of them more accessible to consumers and the wider public.

The climate emergency is a global issue – and cutting our emissions is a vital solution to this pressing problem. It is a positive step that companies in different countries are working together to create a better charging experience for everybody. 

I have long believed that the country needs a National Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy to deal with issues around accessibility. This announcement from the collaborating parties in e-mobility is absolutely a step in the right direction.”

When roaming for charging infrastructure becomes more accessible, drivers will have a choice in which mobility service provider (MSP) company they want to use. Drivers will be able to pay for their charging session with one single subscription via their app or token and all payments of the provider will be collected on one bill. This is an advantage for all, especially for business drivers, who no longer need to manually ask for reimbursement for multiple accounts from their employer. Companies will be able to manage all their billing, settlement and reimbursement automatically with one organisation. 

Christopher Burghardt, Managing Director, Europe at ChargePoint, Inc., said: “This agreement is a significant step in the expansion of access to public charging, improving the driver experience, and helping to make the switch to e-mobility more seamless for UK drivers. Roaming agreements not only allow us to expand our global footprint, it is also another example of how collaboration across the industry is key to a greener, more sustainable electric future.”

Better roaming access to charging infrastructure will also lead to more competition and product innovation. Ultimately creating a better user experience for drivers with improved applications. This will fuel the uptake of EVs as drivers will have access to apps that will show where more charge points are situated, which are available for charging in real time, but it will also simplify administrative systems for billing, settlement and reimbursement and bring the ease of charging further in line with expectations set out by a century of internal combustion engine fuelling.

The agreements between charge point operators are based on the Open Charge Point Interface, a standardized and open-source protocol that is commonly used in the charging industry in Europe. The initiators of this letter of intent also welcome other interested charge point operators and mobility service providers to participate in this initiative.

THE PROBLEM WITH THE UK’S EV PUBLIC CHARGING NETWORK – AND THE SOLUTION