Gridserve abandons the monopoly of electric vehicle charging on the motorway Bedford News

Gridserve, which operates the electric highway network, has signed a legally binding agreement with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which means it will not enforce its exclusive rights to charging stations after November 2026.

The company currently holds exclusive long-term rights to install and operate public chargers in the Extra, MOTO and Roadchef service areas – representing two-thirds of all UK motorway service stations.

The deal means Gridserve is ending its current deal with Moto around two years early and its deal with Roadchef four years earlier than planned. This also means that it will not enforce the separate exclusive rights granted under the government’s Rapid Charging Fund (RCF).

Gridserve took over the electric highway network in 2021

The announcement was welcomed as an opportunity to improve competition and potentially lower prices while raising standards.

The CMA launched an investigation into Electric Highway in July 2021, two months after Gridserve bought it from Ecotricity. He worried that long-term exclusivity agreements, some lasting up to 15 years, could hurt competition in the electric vehicle charging market, putting drivers at a disadvantage.

Announcing the deal, 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 the terminals of charging are installed at scale where people need them, 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.

In a statement, Gridserve said: “We immediately understood why concerns had been raised, as upgrading electric vehicle charging infrastructure on motorways is a critical part of the public charging mix and a particular importance in giving new motorists the confidence to make the transition to electric vehicles.

“In order to continue to focus on providing the necessary charging infrastructure, Gridserve has pursued a path towards a settlement with the CMA at a very early stage in the proceedings. The settlement was reached without any decision or admission of rules breach of competition.”

The CMA estimates that up to 480,000 public charging stations will be needed to meet demand as drivers switch to electric cars. There are currently 29,818 devices with 50,266 connectors, according to Zap-Map and greater competition is seen as key to speeding their installation.

Jim Holder, Editorial Director of What Car?, commented: “Any increase in competition is good news for consumers, as competition generally serves to lower prices and raise service standards.

“The cost and quality of public charging on the UK motorway network needs to be improved nationwide and while consumers will undoubtedly benefit from Gridserve’s decision not to enforce exclusive rights, it will not does not address another important consideration: the need for standardization and ease of use, as well as dependable reliability.

“As motorists increasingly consider switching to electric power, the industry must remove barriers to entry and simplify the electric vehicle landscape, providing as much accessibility and consistency as possible.”

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This notice was published: 2022-03-08 14:05:30

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