New public EV chargepoint regulations - what do they mean for fleets?

 Published 22nd August 2023
Electric Vehicles 

THE UK Government has laid out a new set of rules for public electric vehicle charge point operators, which aim to improve driver confidence in public charging infrastructure.

Regulations cover four key areas:

  Contactless-payment and improved roaming access
  Transparent pricing
  Open charge point data including live availability status
  Reliability levels at 99% minimum

This is, of course, excellent news for anyone with - or who has ordered - an electric vehicle. The incoming regulations will make it easier to reliably and confidently charge a car on the public network. Let's look a little closer at each of the core points.

Easier payment

Charge point operators (CPOs) have been required to provide contactless card access, using a debit or credit card, on newly installed DC (rapid and high-power) devices since spring 2020, but the new legislation lowers that bar. Now, contactless payment will be required on any public charger rated at more than 8kW in power, which includes the likes of 11kW and 22kW public points. CPOs have a year to implement this on all required devices installed.

This leaves 7kW units - the most prevalent power rating of EV charger in the UK - and slower devices such as those in lamp-posts as not being required to meet these contactless regulations, but these will be covered by a requirement for greater roaming coverage across CPOs.

The government is opening up the charging market by stating that within two years a CPO must allow a driver to be able to access its chargers through a third-party payment service should they wish.

It doesn't go so far as to say that all operators need to open up to all roaming services, but that CPOs must not restrict access to their points only to their proprietary app or RFID cards.

In practice, this will change very little as most CPOs have signed up to third-party payment services anyway, but this will ensure that roaming services have an improved chance to allow access to a greater number of charge points for drivers.

Clearer pricing

New regulations will ensure that pricing is clear to customers, using a price per kilowatt hour (p/kWh) unit of measurement. Importantly, this must be clearly displayed either on the unit or a nearby device, before the customer enters into a charging agreement.

Most networks will likely use the screens commonly found on rapid and high-power devices to display costs, though this set of rules could also include the use of a tariff board, such as you see outside the forecourt of a fuel filling station. As long as pricing is clearly displayed before a driver needs to plug in and start charging, it will be allowed.

Data sharing

Another element that will make little practical difference to most networks now - but will ensure everyone is in the same boat - is the availability of live charge point data. This moves information beyond how powerful the charge point is and where it's located to status updates such as if it's in use or not, and should it be in use, to how long someone's been charging on it.

The main benefit of ensuring this data is openly available to users is reflected in the final key rule change, explained below.

Reliable points

Much of the above has been implemented by the industry for the past few years, and it is almost a case of the law catching up with public infrastructure good practice. The rules are to be welcomed to make sure that all CPOs are using this good practice, but not much is new to those that have been driving EVs for a while.

What is new is a reliability index, with CPOs required to have average rapid charge point reliability of 99% or more… or face fines. This is a crucial boost to driver confidence, forcing the CPOs to not only feedback reliability to the government, but also publish information on network reliability on its website. Rapid chargers will be measured as working if they are available, charging, or reserved, plus status updates of unknown or blocked will not harm the score. It will be scored down when inoperative or out of order. A charger can only be assessed during specific hours too, but the CPO's report must state how many rapid units are operated during a calendar year, the network's overall average as a percentage, as well as each charger's reliability - including location.

The first report for CPOs will be in January 2026, for the whole of 2025 - giving networks a little over a year to get their charge points in order.

Rob Marshall, Operations Director at Gateway2Lease, comments:

“Overall, the new regulations are to be welcomed, and will make all EV drivers - especially fleet drivers that rely on electric vehicles for work - more confident in the provision of public charging. What's more they will also have information on which networks are performing poorly and those that are doing well. The rules are a crucial step in the switch to EVs being a major fuel type for cars and LCVs on the road.”

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