Should EV motorists be charged extra for hogging charging points?
When your electric vehicle is fully charged, you should move it. But many motorists don’t.
Compulsory fines should be introduced for electric vehicle motorists who hog charging points, says the Dutch Association for Electric Vehicle Motorists (VER) and some major energy companies. Right now, many cars that are fully charged block charging points for hours.
People who hog charging points are a major source of irritation for many electric vehicle motorists. “People are using charging points as regular parking spaces even when their car has been fully charged for hours,” says Koos Burgman, chairman of the VER. “This can be really annoying if your battery is low and there’s no alternative place to charge in the vicinity. And the growing number of electric vehicles on the road will only serve to intensify demand for charging points.”
While the number of hybrid plug-in cars in the Netherlands remained stable since 2016, there are now over 134,000 electric vehicles, including hybrids, on the road, compared to around 90,000 in 2015. In the Netherlands, the number of electric vehicle charging stations and charging points has increased from around 17,000 in 2015 to almost 38,000 in 2018.
PitPoint Clean Fuels and the Dutch academic institutions TU Delft and Hogeschool Amsterdam have already looked into a possible solution: making people pay extra for the time they hog a charging point after their vehicle is fully charged. “And we believe this works”, says Bas Gerzon of PitPoint. “Eighty percent of drivers who now hog charging points would respond to a higher price. In other words, they would move their cars if they had to pay more once the battery was charged. Even starting with a small amount of 25 cents an hour would have an impact.”
Energy company Nuon/Vattenfall is one of the few electricity suppliers to have introduced a penalty (in some regions) between the hours of 07:00 and 19:00. Or as they prefer to call it a minimum purchase obligation. “We found that vehicles parked on a charging point are only charging for around 20% of the entire parking period,” says Nuon’s Anouk IJfs. “We ran a pilot project in Amsterdam and introduced an extra cost for situations when a car still occupies a charging point when it’s fully charged. This proved to be a success. The charging points are now delivering twice as much power. And because people are moving their vehicles, the availability of charging points has risen by 27 percent. In the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg EV drivers who leave fully charged cars plugged in at an EV charging point simply have to pay an extra 18 cents per hour , excluding VAT.”
Despite its success, this new system currently only applies to two provinces in the south of the Netherlands. And the extra cost only applies to drivers with a Nuon EV charge card. So, if you have an EV charge card from another supplier, you do not have to pay the extra cost when you hog a charging point.
“This may seem like we are putting our own customers at a disadvantage. However, at this time the systems only allow us to track what our own customers are doing. Hopefully this will change. At this stage we aim to set the example for others. The number of people driving electric vehicles is growing and there’s a need for socially acceptable ways of using the available charging points.”
The difference between Nuon customers and people using EV charge cards from other companies is exactly what makes this such a complicated issue says Sytse Zuidema at NewMotion, the largest provider of EV charge cards in the Netherlands. “There are many players in the market and several stakeholders involved with commercialising charging stations. There are hundreds of contracts between charging point suppliers, energy companies and EV charge card providers in Europe. You need to make this more transparent before you can introduce any extra costs for the consumer. We’re working hard with all the parties in the sector on this, because we support differentiated tariffs, provided they are clear to all customers in advance. Although I don’t like the terms ‘penalty charge’ or ‘fine’. What we’re talking about is simply a higher price for people who don’t move their vehicle.”
At laadpastop10.nl – a Dutch online comparison site for EV charge cards – Maarten Hachmang doesn’t believe in charging extra. “People generally have a reason to park their car. When they go out to a restaurant, catch a movie or see a play, they’re not going to interrupt their evening to move the car. And most electric vehicles are in fact company cars – these drivers aren’t bothered if they have to pay an extra euro an hour for a parking space.”
The intense competition between companies issuing e-charging service cards is yet another issue according to Mr Hachmang. “When you’re fighting to attract customers the last thing you want is to impose a fine or penalty. Increasingly, the service card providers are offering ‘all in’ subscriptions. A single monthly charge that covers everything, which means that the customer doesn’t notice if extra charges are factored in. And consequently, there’s absolutely no incentive for the electric vehicle driver.”
Make it compulsory
The answer to this is government involvement, according to VER. “It’s such a complex market,” says Koos Burgman. “If you want to bring about rapid change in the use of charging points, you need to involve local and regional authorities – and perhaps even national government – to impose a compulsory price mechanism on people who hog charging points. And make sure it’s transparent.”
So, will drivers of electric vehicles have to get up in the middle of the night to move the car and avoid a fine? “No,” says Bas Gerzon at PitPoint. “You could start charging the higher price from a certain time after the vehicle is fully charged. And, for instance, only between 7 in the morning and 10 at night. That would at least provide an incentive for people to move their cars during the day.”