Yesterday, EV infrastructure firm Chargemaster reiterated its plans on Facebook to introduce a range of tariffs for chargemaster members from April 1, 2014 wishing to use its network of charging stations to top up or fully charge their electric car.
Chargemaster says it isn’t in a position at this time to divulge details of the tariffs — which we understand are still being finalised — but will be releasing more information concerning the tariffs ‘nearer the time.’
Transport Evolved spoke to Chargemaster earlier today, reiterated that any new customers joining in the past year were made aware their membership cards would only work up until March 31, 2014. Existing members will be given the option of signing up for one of the new access tariffs in April, or allow their existing membership to expire.
Currently, Chargemaster, like other UK-based charging providers, require EV owners apply for an RFID ‘smart’ membership card which acts as a key to unlock any public charging station operated by the network. Currently, a fee of £10 is levied for each membership card per year.
Chargemaster isn’t the first UK-based charging provider to look at ways of monetising the electricity it supplies to customers, and most charging networks we’ve spoken to either have plans to — or will eventually — charge customers one way or another for the electricity they use to charge their car.
Under existing law, charging network providers are unable to charge customers per kilowatt-hour of used electricity unless they are also a registered utility company. The only utility company which is also a charging network provider is Stroud-based green energy supplier Ecotricity, and we understand it is not planning to levy any charges for using its Electric Highway of public charging stations in the near future.
When Chargemaster’s Polar Network of level 2 charging stations first went live a little over two years ago, its plan was initially to charge members a monthly tariff — similar to a monthly cellphone contract — for unlimited access to its public charging stations, along with a small fee every time the customer used a charging station. This was soon changed to a yearly nominal fee after EV owners complained the monthly fees were too expensive for occasional use.
It’s not clear at this time what Chargemaster’s future tariffs will be, although we’d hope to see something offering various levels of coverage, ranging from occasional use to daily use. For example, we’d expect occasional use tariffs to cost less per month than heavy usage tariffs, but the actual cost per charging event to be higher for occasional use vs high-use tariffs. Without any confirmation however, this is pure speculation.
What we can confirm however after speaking to Chargemaster — who was unable to provide us with an official statement at this time — is that the network does plan to implement a pay-as-you-go business model alongside its membership tariffs. Although details have yet to be released, we’d assume this would translate very neatly to the current mobile phone business model, where those on pay-as-you-go pay slightly more than those on an agreed monthly tariff. If you’re an occasional public charging station user however, this option could offer best value for money in some situations.
Of course, Chargermaster isn’t the only charging provider changing its business models as EVs become more popular. Most of the major charging networks we can think of have plans to move towards some form of paid business model to give access to public charging infrastructure for EV drivers. In their defence, we’d argue that it’s only right and fair to pay a proportional amount for the electricity that you use and the frequency with which you use a public charging station, especially given the costs associated with maintaining and installing public charging infrastructure.
But do you agree? What would you consider a fair amount to pay for charging your car? Do electric car drivers expect something for nothing? Is it too early to charge for electric car charging? What would you do if you ran a public charging network, and do you think paying more for public charging would improve the service?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.