A group of European EV charging networks will make their services interoperable for drivers in the U.K. by the end of the year.

The roaming deal was announced in a joint letter of intent signed by Allego, EVBox, NewMotion, Chargemap, ChargePoint, Charge4Europe, Engenie, Franklin Energy and Travelcard.

Users of any of these services will be able to use one subscription to access all the participating infrastructure and will only receive one bill.

While the growing density of EV charging infrastructure in Europe is helping drivers' overcome range anxiety, having to sign up with multiple providers can be a headache. The signatories claim roaming deals in Germany, France and the Netherlands encouraged greater EV adoption in those countries. The simplified billing process that comes with interoperability is also a key driver of business deployment of EVs for their fleet requirements.

The roaming networks will use the Open Charge Point Interface, an open-source protocol with roots in the Netherlands.

"This agreement is a significant step in the expansion of access to public charging, improving the driver experience, and helping to make the switch to e-mobility more seamless for U.K. drivers," Christopher Burghardt, managing director for Europe at ChargePoint, said in a statement.

BP Chargemaster not participating

In a joint statement the participants also offered an open invite to other networks to join in.

A spokesperson for California-based ChargePoint, whose backers include Chevron Technology Ventures and American Electric Power, told GTM that some U.K. networks had declined to participate in the roaming deal.

“Whilst the large players in continental Europe are more open to allowing each other’s drivers to roam on their respective networks, it feels like a number of major U.K. players are still reluctant to open up. This initiative was open to all, though many players in the U.K. are not yet open to opening up their network to improve EV drivers' experience and increase uptake.”

The spokesperson was unable to provide a total figure on the number of public charging points covered by the new arrangement. ChargePoint itself is aiming to add 2.5 million chargers to its network globally by 2025, public and otherwise. Half of these will be in Europe. It currently has just over 100,000 in service.

Tom Callow, director of communication and strategy at BP Chargemaster, which is not participating in the roaming deal, declined to comment on the merits of roaming agreements.

“We operate the largest nationwide public charging network in the U.K., providing easy and convenient access to around 7,000 charge points, including the largest number of rapid chargers in the U.K., and are also establishing the U.K.’s largest network of 150-kilowatt ultra-fast chargers,” Callow said in an emailed statement.

BP bought Chargemaster in June 2018 for £130 million ($161 million).

The U.K. is aiming to phase out new internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040. The government has already identified roaming as an area in need of improvement.

Daniel Brown, policy manager and EV lead at the REA, said:

"While these issues have been largely acknowledged and tackled in North America, there has been little progress in the U.K. to date. It's clear that all that is changing with announcements such as this. In recent months the government has made it clear that it expects industry-led action on the topic of e-roaming, and they have taken powers to legislate if progress is not made.”