CMA scrutinises electric vehicle charging market

Out-Law News | 04 Dec 2020 | 5:13 pm | 1 min. read

A new study into the electric vehicle charging market has been opened by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in an effort to ensure the market works well for consumers and supports the take-up of electric vehicles.

The regulator said its study would involve looking at electric vehicle charging in a mix of settings, including at homes, on the street, at workplaces, at hubs and at motorway service stations.

The market for electric vehicles is set for rapid growth in demand after the UK government recently announced that it will bring forward a planned ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2035 to 2030 as part of its 10-point 'road to zero' plan to meet its legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plans, which will be subject to consultation, also include extending the ban to include the sale of hybrid vehicles.

However, despite government commitments in the recent budget to provide £500 million over the next five years for charging infrastructure, and other measures in support of electric vehicles, the lack of truly accessible, easy to use and fast charging national charging infrastructure remains a substantial barrier to wider uptake.

Competition law expert Richard Snape of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said the outcomes from the CMA's market study will factor into the way the market for electric vehicle charging infrastructure evolves.

"The CMA’s market study raises a number of interesting points, such as what degree of regulation is required to protect consumers, without discouraging or limiting innovation and market entry," Snape said. "Given the importance of the sector to the success of the UK government’s ‘green industrial revolution’, finding the right balance to create a healthy and effective market will be essential. The CMA is seeking to collect a range of views from industry participants including chargepoint providers, industry bodies and consumer groups. Any interested parties should respond to the CMA’s invitation to comment by 5 January 2020."

"The opening of the market study follows the decision by the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) in Germany to investigate the sector in July 2020. Similarly to the CMA, the Bundeskartellamt is assessing whether the market could develop in a way which leads to market dominance on what will become essential infrastructure to the future of transport. These investigations show competition regulators’ intentions to support the UK’s and EU’s drive towards a more environmentally sustainable economy, recognising the speed at which change is needed, and seeking to develop frameworks to ensure that this change is managed in a way which best protects consumers interests."