The unreliability of public charging stations is a public scandal, and government regulators in several countries are stepping in to try to force the charging industry to raise its game.
The UK government has proposed new rules that will require charge point operators to deliver a 99% reliability rate, and to offer real-time status updates and a 24-hour help line. The government said that a measure recently adopted in the Netherlands, which also requires 99% uptime, served as a model.
The rules, which mostly follow the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy announced in 2022, would also mandate per-kWh pricing, price displays and contactless payments, in line with recently-announced regs in the EU.
The UK’s proposed rules appear to be considerably more stringent than the consumer-protection measures included in the US’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Whereas the latter applies only to chargers funded with federal money, the UK’s rules would appear to apply to most or all public chargers, and they specify fines of up to £10,000 for each charger that fails to comply.
Feedback from the industry appears to be positive so far.
“From easy payment to chargers you know will work when you get to them, these are issues which have been highlighted for many years,” said Zapmap COO Melanie Shufflebotham. “It’s great to see these concerns now being addressed by Parliament, which will lead to more collaboration across the industry.”
The industry “welcomes these regulations,” said Ian Johnston, the CEO of Osprey Charging. “Consumer confidence in charging infrastructure is vital, and we look forward to working with the government to implement these regs.”
Julian Skidmore, Senior Firmware Engineer at EV charging consultancy Versinetic, praised the proposed rules, but identified a few areas for improvement. “Displaying the cost per KWh makes it more honest…but equally important is certifying chargers to charge at the advertised [charging speed]. There are real consequences to not being able to charge at anticipated rates.”
“Simply fining companies for failing requirements might inhibit the market,” Skidmore adds. “I would sooner see approved third-party maintenance companies [sponsored by] charging companies. That way, users are guaranteed a decent service, while charging companies are incentivized to provide one.”