The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK has issued a reminder to EV charge point operators and motorway service area operators to adhere to competition laws in infrastructure planning. The CMA’s scrutiny follows investigations into suspected breaches and a competition law case addressing long-term exclusive arrangements. The focus is on fostering a comprehensive, competitive charging network in the UK while avoiding potential violations that could hinder the roll-out of essential funding initiatives.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued a reminder to motorway service operators and EV charge point operators to avoid violating competition laws in their infrastructure planning. The CMA has already investigated suspected breaches of the Competition Act 1998 related to the supply of EV charge points on or near motorways.
It also initiated a competition law case regarding long-term exclusive arrangements for the supply of EV charge points entered into between Gridserve Holdings and three motorway service area operators – Moto Holdings, Roadchef, and Extra MSA Property (UK). This followed concerns that such lengthy exclusivity arrangements would foreclose other charge point operators (CPO) from entering the market and thereby impede the effective roll-out of the £950 million rapid Charging fund (RCF).
The enforcement action resulted in commitments from all those involved, including commitments to reduce the length of exclusivity periods and to not enforce exclusive rights at any MSA site that is granted RCF funding.
In an open letter to EV charge point operators and motorway service area operators, Jennifer Halliday, senior director, advocacy and external engagement at CMA, emphasised the need for a comprehensive, competitive charging network in the UK, ensuring that charging is as simple and convenient as filling up with petrol or diesel. Halliday pointed out that arrangements leading to long-term exclusivity between CPOs and MSA site operators could breach competition law.
In the long term, opening up charging at MSA sites to multiple CPOs will give drivers a choice of operators, and competition within sites will help deliver better outcomes for drivers, according to Halliday. All CPOs and MSA site operators should ensure that their arrangements comply with competition law, seeking independent legal advice if necessary and making any changes to existing commercial arrangements to ensure compliance.
Halliday added that the CMA will continue to monitor charging along motorways and the sector more broadly, considering intervention using its tools, including taking enforcement action, where needed to improve competition and innovation for the benefit of drivers in this critically important sector.