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23 - 25 APRIL 2024 • NEC • BIRMINGHAM • UK
20 April 2024
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Weak phone signal problem for electric van charging

Drivers of electric vans are being warned that a weak mobile phone signal could leave them stranded at many UK public charge points when it comes to accessing chargers reliant on apps.

Technology

Research by the RAC Foundation suggests around two-thirds of Britain’s most common type of public charge point suffer limited mobile signal connectivity – and this could cause problems when drivers seek to top up at thousands of locations.

According to Department for Transport figures, there were 53,677 public charging devices in the UK at the start of the year. Of these, 31,910 have speeds up to 8kW and almost all will be so-called Type 2 chargers. Unlike charge points with 8kW or faster, chargers below this speed are not obliged to provide for contactless payment under the new Public Charge Point Regulations.

Instead, the vast majority require drivers to access them via mobile phone apps and most chargers themselves also need an adequate mobile signal connection to function, according to the RAC Foundation.

It points out that Britain has four mobile network providers – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – on which other companies, Giffgaff, Tesco Mobile etc, can piggyback.

And unless all four are providing adequate signal coverage at the charge point location, there’s a risk that either the user or the charger will lack the connection needed to unlock the flow of electricity.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

Where signal connectivity at a charge point is a problem, drivers might conclude that the charger is at fault, hence undermining the confidence we should be building in the reliability of public charging options for electric vehicles. What’s more, the poor connectivity won’t get picked up in the new mandatory reporting system applying only to the rapid charger network. In order to design reliable connected services that work for motorists, we need a better approach to assessing and reporting the adequacy of on-the-move connectivity so that designers, including electric charge point providers, can select which of the readily available workarounds would cover for the shortcomings of the mobile networks.

End

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