Charging inequality – when will electric charging be fair?

Mark Lewis
Mark Lewis

New technology is always exclusive when it launches. Computers, the first cars and even the mobile phone remained a great mystery to the masses for years after their introduction.

And that’s because new technology is often expensive. The first computers took up whole offices, cars used to be hand crafted by men in dungarees, and mobile phones meant building cellular networks across nations - no wonder the first one was £3,000. 

Nothing new is discounted. But, the good news is, as a technology grows in popularity, it often isn’t long until better manufacturing, cheaper materials and a competitive market brings prices down for everyone else.

This has always happened with new tech and, despite what people believe, it will be the case with electric cars - which are currently expensive to everyone who is not an oligarch.

However, in all these explosions of fresh technology, there has never been a late-joiners fee. Just like when I got my first car, a used and abused Vauxhall Corsa, I wasn’t punished by having to pay more fuel duty.

But, with electric cars that is not the case. Because, if you don’t own a home with a driveway, you will end up paying more to go electric.

Why is that?

Two thirds of British households have off-street parking. This means they can install a chargepoint at their home.

Home chargers are impressive bits of kit. Not only can they produce up to 7kWh and be controlled remotely, many are also ‘smart’. This means that while you dream about trees of green and red roses too, your car will juice up only when the electricity is cheapest.

Better still, the government will even pay 75% towards the cost of installing these volt stations at your house.

You’d be mad not to take up that offer if you own a driveway.

The other third

Meanwhile, though, the remaining third of motorists don’t get such a good deal.

People without off-street parking must charge their cars up using the public network. Either from slow trickle chargers, such as lamp posts, or at faster rapid chargers at service stations. All public chargers cost significantly more than what you’d pay at home, often well over double the price.

Perhaps this should be expected, public charging companies need a return on investment after all.

However, the real kick in the teeth is that, if you use public charging points, you have to pay 20% VAT. Whereas, people with a home charging point only pay 5%. 

That 15% difference can amount to hundreds of pounds each year. And, given those who do not have access to a driveway tend to be less well off, you could say it’s the sort of policy Robin Hood would shoot arrows over.

EVs are a new technology that will change how everyone in this country moves. And it’s a technology everyone will have to use as time goes by, accelerated by the 2030 ban on new combustion engine sales. 

While some ideas being mused by politicians, such as replacing fuel duty with ‘pay-per-mile’ road pricing, may annoy motorists. It is at least fair. It impacts everyone equally. A higher tax rate on those without a driveway on the other hand is not. 

The government must build a level playing field for people to adopt EVs, not maintain a barrier. It is for this reason that the Chancellor should eliminate this charging inequality.