May 17, 2022

Motorway fast-charging station operator scraps exclusivity rights due to competition concerns

One of the UK’s largest operators of electric vehicle charging stations has agreed not to enforce its exclusive rights to some of the UK’s motorways after an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Gridserve has signed a legally binding commitment that competitors will be able to join it in providing infrastructure from November 2026.

The deal will see it reduce the length of exclusive rights in current contracts with motorway service providers MOTO and Roadchef by around 2 and 4 years respectively, while the contract with the third operator, Extra, is due to end in 2026.

Ann Pope, CMA’s senior director of antitrust, said: “We need a combination of investment now and healthy competition in the future to ensure that charging stations are installed at home. scale where people need it, at a fair price.

“Today’s commitments strike the right balance. Gridserve will continue to invest in the much-needed rollout of charging stations across the country, but the exclusivity associated with its investment will not pose an undue barrier to other competitors in the near future.

The UK car industry recently called on the government to set up an independent body that would oversee the installation of new electric vehicle charging stations and set car charging prices.

The UK currently faces vast regional gaps in charging points across the country, with 102 public charging stations per 100,000 people in London, compared to just 24 charging stations per 100,000 people in the North West .

Charging anxiety is seen as one of the biggest barriers to increasing consumer adoption of electric vehicles, especially for long journeys where fast chargers operated by Gridserve and others are essential .

In addition to reducing Gridserve’s exclusivity, the CMA’s action will also allow the government’s Rapid Charging Fund (RCF) to be rolled out as planned and provide drivers with faster charging.

This funding is intended to encourage the installation of charging stations at motorway service areas, but it should only be available for sites with more than one charging station operator. Without the commitments, Gridserve would have retained exclusivity over the vast majority of motorway service areas and wide adoption of the RCF would not have been possible.

Gridserve has launched a major new investment program ahead of expected increases in demand as people switch to electric vehicles ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

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