Electric car owners in the UK will find it increasingly difficult to charge their vehicles up for free, as the majority of public charging points become paid-for within the next year.

Charging point providers have cited the end of a Government electric vehicle initiative as the reason for the switch, with one operating company, Chargemaster, beginning charging from April.

The Government supported ‘Plugged in Places’ scheme, which contributed in equal part to private funding for EV charging points, ends this month, meaning providers will have to look to their customers to maintain profitability.

A half-hour fast charge at a public charging point can cost up to £7.50

Chargemaster head David Martell told Autocar magazine that the switch needn’t dissuade people from buying an electric car.

"It's simple," he said. "This is happening not just in the UK but all over the world. In the Netherlands until last year charging points were free and now it's chargeable. You can't get away from it. If you want public charging points someone has to pay not only for the electricity but also for the maintenance and investment.

"This is a positive step because it means there'll be more and better-maintained charging sites."

Chargemaster states that only around 20 per cent of its 3000-strong UK supply network will become paid-for initially, with more and more charging customers as the year progresses.

Currently, users of Chargemaster’s ‘Polar’ network of charging points can pay for electricity via monthly direct debit, annual subscription or via a smartphone app. By using the app, customers are charged £1.20 per hour for a standard 13amp supply, up to £7.50 per half hour of rapid charging.

Unsurprisingly, the move has angered EV owners. Brian Orr, of the Electric Vehicle Driver’s Association, told Autocar: "These charges are absurdly high and seem to be contrary to everything up until now. The charging can be much more expensive than running a petrol car. It's a total setback."

Do you think EV owners are right to expect free electricity? Do you think the move will affect uptake of electric cars? Have your say below.

Picture: Fotolia

Daljinder Nagra


March 18, 2014