Charging an electric car

Motorway fast-charger operator scraps exclusivity rights over competition concerns

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One of the UK’s largest operators of electric vehicle chargepoints has agreed not to enforce its exclusive rights to some of the UK’s motorways after an investigation from 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 agreement will see it reducing the length of the exclusive rights in the 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, the CMA’s senior director of antitrust, said: “We need a combination of investment now and healthy competition going forward to make sure chargepoints are installed at scale where people need them, for a fair price.

“Today’s commitments strike the right balance. Gridserve will continue to invest in the much needed roll-out of chargepoints across the country but the exclusivity linked to its investment won’t be an undue barrier to others competing in the near future.”

The UK’s car industry recently called on the government to create an independent body that would oversee the installation of new electric vehicle chargepoints and set car-charging prices.

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

Charging anxiety is considered to be one of the key barriers to consumers increasing their adoption of electric vehicles – especially for taking long trips where rapid chargers operated by Gridserve and others are essential.

Alongside 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 chargepoints at motorway service areas, but it is expected to only be available for sites with more than one chargepoint operator. Without the commitments, Gridserve would have retained exclusivity at the vast majority of motorway service areas and wide take-up of the RCF would not have been possible.

Gridserve has commenced a significant new programme of investments ahead of expected increases in demand, as people switch to electric vehicles in the lead-up to the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

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