The bright idea that’s a ‘landmark moment’ for electric cars in Britain

One of the major headaches of owning an electric car is finding and paying for a charging point — but that's become far easier as a new scheme gets off the ground.

When Country Life’s motoring correspondent Charles Rangeley-Wilson wrote a piece on electric cars earlier this year, he came away hugely impressed with the vehicles themselves.

Finding somewhere to charge those cars, however, was a different matter. Some parts of the country are already well-served by electric points, but in others — notably the West Country and Scotland — they’re few and far between. What’s worse is that most are run by different organisations, forcing users to set up online accounts and smartcards with a plethora of companies in order to accomplish what ought to be a simple task.

That latter headache is about to be solved. Nine of the main operators of Britain’s 20,000 electric charging points have clubbed together to allow drivers to pay for their electricity with a single account. Allego, EV Box, New Motion, Chargemap, Charge Point, Charge4europe, Engenie, Franklin Energy and Travelcard have joined the consortium — though not without a little pressure. The government had threatened to enforce a similar scheme if one wasn’t set up voluntarily.

‘It will help to break down one of the key barriers hampering the uptake of electric vehicles’

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With the work done, however, owning an electric car will be easier than ever before. And with the government having recently pledge to fund the building of a further 1,000 charging points, things are on the up.

‘Simple, standardised payment methods at charge points are essential for an electric revolution, and it is fantastic to see industry working together to make charging an electric car as convenient as buying fuel from a petrol station,’ said transport secretary Grant Shapps.

‘This is a strong signal that we are moving away from confusing payments involving multiple smartphone apps and membership cards, and driving in the right direction; towards electric travel being the new normal.’

The speed of charging is still an issue — typically cars need at least 20 minutes to get a decent amount of charge, even with a commercial fast charger — but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Sytse Zuidema, chief executive of Netherlands-based New Motion, is bullish, telling The Times that this is a ‘landmark moment’ that ‘will help to break down one of the key barriers hampering the uptake of electric vehicles.’