Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill

Written evidence from S Richards (AEVB 03)

To whom it may concern.

I'm responding to a couple of points in this bill, mainly relating to charging of Electric Vehicles. I am an electric vehicle owner and have been using one for the last year or so. I'm currently exasperated with the appalling state of public charging in many areas. It's not fit for purpose or it isn't even there.

My below comments relate to rapid charging (43kw speeds and higher) access and reliability on MSA and Trunk Road network/ fuel retailer type of sites not supermarkets.

Firstly the definition of ad hoc access. In my opinion ad hoc access should not involve ANY kind of phone app, website pre registration or multiple hoops to jump through for each network. Access methods should be either contactless payment card or RFID tag/card, ideally both. The app can be a third option but it should never be the only one.  When asked the biggest majority want contactless debit/credit card as the access and payment method. Any RFID tag/card required should allow immediate use on all UK networks. This is technically possible as many of the networks do have RFID readers in the charging posts. A few of the other providers do allow consumers to register other cards. There should be a national card that is available with all EV purchases that can be registered with one network and that automatically registers that card with all of them. Any post not conforming to standards should be made free. This is the get out for those that can't or won't do the right thing.

The other main issue with rapids is reliability. The main failing seems to be communication issues so that the rapid cannot communicate and authorise a charge. It should be compulsory that whenever there are communications problems the charger will charge a car regardless and the provider will have to support the loss of revenue. No other way will make them sort out these problems.  One alternative is an over ride card like Shell have with the new Recharge chargers. That will give a customer a charge regardless and that card is inside the shop so accessible. Ecotricity are supposed to have chargers that switch over to free vend so they can be used but it is unclear as to how reliably they do this. I have personally been stranded due to chargers going offline and the main response from the provider is that they shrug and can't do anything. This really isn't acceptable when there are often no suitable alternative chargers or they are also suffering the same issue.  The mobile network providers also need to be taken to task on why their networks aren't good enough in these locations. They need to offer a proper reliable data service. This is the main reason the app system works so badly. You have to rely on both charge provider and user's mobile networks and the phone and the software rather than just the charger's data connection. Far many more methods of failure are available when using an app hence it should never be the only access method.

Real time availability data should also be compulsory for all networks to display on a centralised location eg zap map and plugshare. 24 hour fault reporting should be expected. At sites such as MSAs there should be a designated member of MSA staff that checks the charger is ok several times a day to make sure it is working. It is no good having chargers which aren't monitored and which the network provider has no idea whether they're working until a customer turns up and finds it broken.  I also think that rapid chargers that don't have maintenance back up and that aren't repaired within 24 hours at MSA sites should incur fines to the provider as it just isn't good enough to have MSA chargers out of action for days or weeks at a time.  Networks need to be run professionally and with a suitable collection of spares and adequate staffing to provide 24/7 support to customers and reasonable fix times.

Ecotricity is not doing this. It's not got CCS provision at all sites.

It's not even got rapid chargers at all MSAs. All the rapid providers need to have decent availability and reliability. Statistics for all the providers needs to be published so users can see which chargers are unreliable and which providers are unreliable. The sooner this is legislated for the better. It's no good waiting as you'll end up with more and more chargers that don't work and EV take up will carry on being held back.

For all sites and charger types there needs to be some restriction on what providers can take from a user before they've even dispensed any electricity.

Polar Instant requires registration and £20 minimum deposit that they will not refund if it isn't used. This is unacceptable and I'm shocked it's even compliant with consumer rights. A new user can easily lose

£40-£50 in putting credit on several separate providers before they have received a single kWh of electricity. Even for destination charging and other less essential charging it seems to be the norm to want credit rather than offer direct payment. Direct payment should be considered the normal payment method or top ups should be restricted to £5 chunks rather than excessive amounts.

This bill must have minimum standards set out so that those that can't provide a quality service don't get an opportunity. Saying you will do nothing now and then perhaps introduce something later if it isn't going to plan is far too vague.  Set the standards now so that everyone knows what is expected of them in the future. Then potential EV users will actually know the kind of quality of service they can expect. Charge providers will also have to step up and improve their networks.

October 2017


Prepared 1st November 2017