Rules of the EV road part ways in UK and EU

EV Educational

Electric Vehicle drivers in the UK and EU can expect to see a divergence in how they pay for public charging sessions. The fork in the road is being generated by the different rules in the UK’s Public Charge Point Regulations 2023 and the EU’s alternative fuels infrastructure regulations (AFIR).

Both sets of regulations were approved last year and their impacts will be felt in 2024, 2025 and beyond.

In the UK, it appears that the contactless bank card is going to be the dominant tool at all charge points at or above 8kW.

Apps will still be available as a method, but with every new public charge point at 8kW+ needing to offer contactless (either at each charge point unit itself or close by at a card reader shared by several charge points), the bank card or its digital equivalent in a smart phone’s wallet becomes the default.

Meanwhile on the EU’s roads, contactless payment will also be allowed – indeed, it will be a mandatory option required at 50kW+ charge points. But below 50kW operators may have the option of using a unique QR code for each charging session, although this is still somewhat undecided.

Charge point manufacturers therefore have some decisions to make. Include a digital screen capable of displaying the unique QR code and/or a payment terminal capable of communicating with a contactless bank card (or leave it to the operator to bolt on the card reader in situ)?

Throw in the added complication of potentially having to manufacture different units for the EU and UK markets (an unwelcome complication) and you can see additional costs beginning to mount up.

The downside to extra cost and complexity is the potential impact on the roll-out of charging infrastructure. Anything putting brakes on more public charge points diminishes the EV driver experience and risks a knock on effect on non-EV drivers’ appetites for their own transition to electric mobility.

For charge point operators (CPOs) the new regulations stipulate an additional series of ‘must haves’ including reliability targets, reporting, e-roaming, 24/7 helplines, data availability and price visibility. Existing UK rapid charge points have a year to be retrofitted with contactless card payment readers.

A big question lurking in the background is whether those hundreds of thousands of card readers (and, potentially, QR screens in the EU) will pretty rapidly become expensively redundant with the rise of ‘plug & charge’.

The ISO15118 standard primes new charge points for the upcoming V2G (Vehicle to Grid) and V2X (Vehicle to Everything) revolutions, including Vehicle to Grid bidirectional charging and ‘plug & charge’ automatic vehicle identification.

As more public charge points and more EVs are capable of ‘plug & charge’, with the charging costs billed to the account linked to the EV, it is likely to become the payment method of choice thanks to its convenience for the driver. It offers both simplicity and speed.

It’s tempting to wonder if we should just leap forward to ‘plug & charge’, but the early generations of EVs now on the road, and there for some time to come, cannot play that way and will still need one or more of the old ways to pay for public charging.

Daniel Forsberg, CTEK’s Marketing Manager EVSE, said: "In the face of these regulatory shifts, it's imperative for all stakeholders in the EV sector to embrace adaptability. We encourage consumers to stay informed about these changes and how they will impact their charging experiences.

“For CPOs and manufacturers, this is a call to action to ensure compliance while innovating for future needs, particularly in embracing technologies like 'plug & charge'.

“As we transition to a more electrified future, collaborative efforts and open dialogue across the industry will be key to navigating these changes effectively and ensuring a seamless EVSE experience for all.”

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