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Cheaper electric vehicle charging on the way

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is opening up electric vehicle charging competition on motorways.

The regulator said the move will offer greater choice and competition on prices for electric vehicle drivers.

Gridserve, which owns the Electric Highway – a major chargepoint operator – has agreed not to enforce exclusive rights in contracts with Extra, MOTO or Roadchef, after 2026. These providers cover about two-thirds of motorway service stations.

In doing so, Gridserve has committed to reducing the length of the exclusive rights in the current contracts with MOTO by about two years and Roadchef by about four years. The contract with Extra, is due to end in 2026 anyway.

It has also agreed not to enforce exclusive rights at any Extra, MOTO or Roadchef sites that have been granted funding under the UK government’s Rapid Charging Fund (RCF). This means that, where funding has been granted, competitor chargepoint operators will be able to install chargepoints regardless of the exclusive element of the Electric Highway’s contracts.

Each of the motorway service station operators – Extra, MOTO and Roadchef – and Gridserve have also offered commitments not to take any action that would undermine the above commitments.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, said: “One of the biggest stumbling blocks to getting people to switch to electric cars is the fear that they won’t be able to travel from A to B without running out of charge. Millions of people make a pitstop for fuel at motorway service stations every day, so it’s crucial that people can trust that electric chargepoints will do the same job.

“Healthy competition is key to ensuring that drivers have a greater choice of chargepoints where they need them, and for a fair price. We believe that opening up competition on motorways, while ensuring the sector has greater investment, is the right direction of travel – and good news for current drivers of electric cars and for people thinking of buying one.”

The CMA has been investigating Electric Highway’s contracts with MOTO, Roadchef and Extra since July. It looked at Electric Highway’s long-term, exclusive contracts with Extra, MOTO and Roadchef for the motorway service stations they operate and was concerned that these contracts prevent competitor chargepoint operators from operating at motorway service areas.

Sue Davies, Which? head of consumer protection policy, said: “Millions of people in the UK are expected to switch to electric cars over the next decade. We welcome the CMA’s intervention to open up electric vehicle charging competition on motorway service areas, as it should help give consumers wider choice and encourage more competitive pricing.

“To ensure electric vehicles are an option for all consumers, the public charging infrastructure must be overhauled to offer universal access to all networks, making it much simpler and easier to use than it is today.”

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