CMA investigate breaches of competittion in law regarding supply of EV chargepoints
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating suspected breaches of competition law in regarding the supply of electric vehicle chargepoints at motorway service areas, according to a report in Forecourt Trader. The CMA’s market study into electric vehicle (EV) charging was the catalyst for the investigation.
The investigation relates to long-term exclusive arrangements entered into by the Electric Highway Company (recently acquired by Gridserve) and Ecotricity Group, with motorway service area operators: Moto Hospitality, Roadchef and Extra MSA.
“The Electric Highway provides 80% of all chargepoints at motorway service stations (excluding Tesla chargepoints which can only be used by Tesla vehicles) and its long-term exclusive arrangements, which last between 10-15 years, cover around two-thirds of motorway service stations” the CMA has stated.
The watchdog is concerned that such arrangements affect other operators to provide competing chargepoints at motorway service stations – which could mean drivers lose out on the benefits of competition such as greater provision, more choice, competitive prices and reliable, high-quality chargepoints.
However Gridserve has stated that its purpose is “to deliver sustainable energy and move the needle on climate change. We acquired the Electric Highway network less than two months ago to accelerate decarbonisation in-line with net zero targets and provide the best possible consumer experience to make driving an electric vehicle as attractive as possible to everyone.
“We have already made incredible progress upgrading the original Electric Highway network. This has included replacing chargers in over 70 locations in less than eight weeks with new technology, contactless payment, reliable charging with 24×7 customer support, and introducing a Customer Charter – all while retaining highly competitive prices.
“Our focus is to find a path forward that addresses the concerns raised by the CMA, enabling us to retain momentum and continue to swiftly deliver the net zero charging infrastructure plans and investment we have worked so hard to put in place, that support the successful uptake and transition to electric vehicles, in-line with the government’s clearly stated objectives.”
The CMA’s market study set out measures to ensure a national network of electric vehicle chargepoints is in place ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. It examined whether the industry can deliver a UK charging network that is competitive and that can be trusted.
The CMA report also raised concerns about choice and availability of chargepoints at motorway service stations. The roll-out of on-street charging by local authorities (which many drivers will rely on) is too slow; and rural areas risk being left behind with too few chargepoints due to lack of investment.
Charging can sometimes be difficult and frustrating for drivers, which could stop people switching to EVs. Concerns about the reliability of chargepoints, difficulties in comparing prices and paying for charging, could reduce confidence and trust.