French Car-Sharing Firm Bolloré To Take Over London’s EV Charging Network

A subsidiary of Bolloré, the French firm responsible for Autolib, the largest and most successful electric car sharing schemes in the world, is to take over day-to-day operations of London’s electric vehicle charging network, it was announced this morning.

Source London's RFID card gives you access to over 1400 charging stations in London and the south east.

Source London’s RFID card gives you access to nearly 1400 charging stations in London and the south east.

The subsidiary of the global investment and industrial holding group is primarily known for its design manufacture and marketing of the ticketing and check in machinery found airports, ferry terminals and other mass-transit networks, but also specialises in logistics technology for package tracking and mobility solutions, including EV charging networks. IER’s technology underpins the entire Autolib car sharing network, managing charging events, rental and payment systems.

Source London — which currently operates nearly 1400 charging points across the Greater London area — was initially launched in May 2011 by Mayor of London Boris Johnson  as an attempt to homogenise the many different charging schemes which previous existed throughout the Greater London area for electric car users.

Before its inception, electric car drivers who traveled through London had to carry multiple different RFID smart cards to access charging stations in different districts, while some boroughs even restricted electric car charging privileges to electric car drivers which lived within their boundaries.

Source London membership — which costs £10 per year — provides electric car drivers with a single RFID smart card that they can use to access charging points throughout the twin cities of Westminster and London city, as well as any borough within (and some just outside) the 117 mile circumference of the M25 orbital motorway.

While there are a few rapid charging stations which fall within the car of Source London, Source London members can also use their membership cards to access the majority of rapid charging stations located throughout the UK, as well as many 13 amp ‘slow’ and Type 2 ‘fast’ charging stations located in partnering schemes in Oxford, Milton Keynes and East Anglia.

Source London covers all of London and some of the south east of the UK

Source London covers all of London and some of the south east of the UK

In a letter to Source London members this morning, Nick Fairholme, Director of Source London, explained the change of management is expected to take place next summer.

“I am writing to let you know that following a competitive process Transport for London has selected IER to take over the management and operation of Source London from summer 2014.

Please be assured that while we transition Source London to IER the scheme will continue to operate as usual and you will continue to have access to over 1300 charging points.

Over the coming months we will keep you informed of how the transition to IER is progressing. For more information regarding the transition process, please visit www.sourcelondon.net

Over the past few years, Source London has been criticised by EV drivers for its lack of reliability and accountability, with many of its stations permanently broken, malfunctioning, or  blocked by everything from an ICE car parking in an EV bay to Motorcycles, Industrial equipment or temporary parking restrictions.  Worse still, locations are often altered or removed, leaving owners confused and unable to charge. In the past two years, the Transport Evolved team have visited twelve different Source London locations.  At ten of those locations, we’ve either had to find alternative places to charge due to inaccessible or broken equipment, or been forced to charge at the slowest possible speed due to equipment malfunction.

Source London charging points are often broken. This one suggests someone has been charging a 625 kilowatt-hour battery pack!

Source London charging points are often broken. This one suggests someone has been charging a 625 kilowatt-hour battery pack!

With IER’s existing experience of electric car infrastructure provision through its connection with Autolib, we’d hope that Source London is in good hands, but with so many inherent problems in the current network — not to mention a complete lack of faith in the network by most EV drivers in and around London and an almost complete lack of interest from parking lot owners and parking patrols in correctly policing EV charging bays — we think IER faces a tough challenge.

But what do you think? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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