Service stations hire staff to stop drivers fighting over car chargers

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London: Britain’s biggest motorway service station provider has brought in marshals to police “charge rage” among electric vehicle drivers battling for access to plug-in points.

Moto chief executive Ken McMeikan warned the UK’s motorway service stations are facing growing “public disorder” due to a lack of grid connections preventing him from installing enough car chargers to meet the surge in demand.

Charging points are becoming increasingly important amid the uptake of electric vehicles.,Credit: Bloomberg

It means many motorists are facing long waits, with angry drivers confronting staff and each other over the lack of charging facilities.

McMeikan said the delays made drivers “very angry and stressed” and warned of the growing risk of “charge rage” on Britain’s motorways.

“People need to drive their EV cars around without range anxiety, without long queues and without public disorder but at peak seasonal times we are experiencing all this now,” he said.

Moto, which runs 49 motorway services around the UK, has already introduced marshalls at Exeter, Rugby and Wetherby to manage EV queues and prevent conflicts during busy periods.

McMeikan, 58, who drives an EV himself, said he had told the government of the problem and warned ministers that public disorder incidents would grow.

“I’ve been saying to them that the grid does not have sufficient capacity right now to deliver the power we need at the time we need it,” he said.

“If we don’t get that amount of power guaranteed, then in coming years every Christmas, every Easter, every summer holiday and peak bank holiday will be the equivalent of when we have a fuel crisis on petrol and diesel.”

Electric car drivers were forced to queue for up to six hours at some service stations across the UK last Christmas.

Unlike a petrol or diesel engine that takes just minutes to fill, a typical electric car will take at least half an hour to recharge. It means many more charging stations are needed to service EVs.

The Moto chief is the latest senior business leader to warn that long delays in connecting to the grid are holding back the rolling out of charging points.

The chief executive of Gridserve, one of Britain’s biggest electric car charging companies, told the Telegraph earlier this month that delays had forced his business to rely on batteries and generators to power up vehicles.

“You’ll see queues of people and public disorder because there wasn’t enough power delivered to motorway service areas… to allow people to charge their car and then continue their journey,” McMeikan said.

“There is a view in government that, rather than provide the power to guarantee sufficient numbers of chargers, we should be thinking about how we manage queues.”

McMeikan said he had repeatedly told Jesse Norman, the minister for transport decarbonisation, that making EV motorists queue would put his staff and motorists at risk of “charge rage.”

There are already about 850,000 electric vehicles on UK roads and two in ten of the new cars registered in August were EVs.

Despite recently delaying a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, the British government last week confirmed that more than a fifth of new cars sold by manufacturers in the UK next year must be zero emission, rising to 80 per cent by 2030.

The Telegraph, London

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