Charging discrimination instead of charging for all.

London is often viewed as the EV charging capital of the world. Thanks to the Congestion Charging zone and it’s exemptions for electric and other green vehicles, not to mention the success of the small G-Wiz and similar small electric vehicles London appears, at least on the face of it, to be a brilliant place to be if you want to own an EV.

Not only that, but there’s now over 100 public electric vehicle charging points spread throughout the greater London area. In order to use one, you have to satisfy a series of criteria to ensure that you’re a) an electric vehicle owner and b) that you agree to abide by the fair usage policies the charging points have.

But wait. What’s this? London Boroughs (think of them as small council district within the greater London area) may appear to provide charging points to electric and PHEV vehicle drivers but they’re rather picky about who can use their points.

You can charge in London - but only if youre a local.
You can charge in London - but only if you're a local.

photo by Shiner Clay

More after the jump

Firstly, many of the thirty-two London boroughs (some of which club-together for joint EV charging schemes) require that in order to be eligible to apply for a key to be used on their charging points you have to either live or work in their borough. Which kind of defeats the object of having charging points. You’d expect that generally you’d want to be able to use charging bays outside of your home borough as they would be further from your home. But no. As the New Ride website shows, there’s seven different application forms for the various charging points and borough councils throughout London. In other words, a real nightmarish hodge-podge of charging permission which you have to get in each area.

Not only that, but the charge varies from area to area depending on where you live. It can cost between £75 and £100 a year to register for the scheme.

Interestingly though, there isn’t any difference between the charging points. Most of the boroughs use electric charging stations manufactured by Elecktromotive. Yup, the same charge bays, operated by different borough councils. So why have a different scheme?

At the moment the difference between the borough councils seems purely a bureaucratic way to ensure that tax-payers money isn’t wasted on folks from outside a particular borough. And the reason why this exists is because at the moment electricity is not charged for by the borough councils; the privilege to charge is. Elektromotive don’t appear to support this bureaucracy. In fact, they’re planning a new way of charging for electricity used while charging an EV which will hopefully get rid of these silly restrictions.

After spending a few days talking to various people I’ve managed to get a charge key for Westminster, enabling me to charge up my PHEV in London when I visit. And yes, I paid the £75 registration fee, so I’m all legal. Let’s hope though, that Elektromotive get their nation-wide pay-as-you-go charging scheme underway soon, so that we can end this silly London charging nightmare. The London borough councils really have to get their acts together before electric vehicles are going to be considered an easy option.