Broken electric charge points letting down green car pioneers

3 October 2014

Electric car owner Marianna Trezza with her son Antonio, Maya de Souza and Sian BerryThe network of electric car charge points on Camden’s streets were out of action for nearly one third of last year, data released to Camden Green Party has revealed.

After frequent concerns raised by local residents, who have repeatedly found inactive charge points and long delays before they are repaired , former Green councillor Maya de Souza and Highgate councillor Sian Berry requested a full breakdown of the availability of the charging stations around the borough.

The results show that the 28 public charge points on the Source London network in Camden broke down 187 times in 2013, with repairs taking an average of 17 days to be completed. A quarter of repairs took more than 20 days to be completed and one in ten took more than 40 days.

Highgate resident Marianna Trezza (shown in photo with Maya de Souza, Sian Berry and her son Antonio) owns an electric car, but has come close to giving up her green vehicle in the face of continual problems at her local charge point in Burghley Road. She says:

"I firmly believe in better air quality so fifteen months ago I bought a Reva G-WIZ electric car. It turned out to be the worst of my nightmares because most of Camden electrical charge points are not working. This forces me to either take two buses or walk up to an hour with a young child to the nearest working charge point every other day. My advice? If you are not lucky enough to have a house with a private driveway for charging your car from your own electricity, do not buy an electric car until public charging services get much better."

Councillor Sian Berry says:

“The data we have uncovered shows an absolutely woeful service being provided to Camden’s residents via Source London. People who make the pioneering decision to get an electric car, helping to clean up our air and reduce our climate change emissions, are being badly let down. This cannot go on or we risk people abandoning their efforts altogether.

“We understand the service has now been taken over by a French company, the Bolloré Group, who will be responsible for all our local charge points once new contracts with Camden are signed, and for expanding the network. We’ll be watching closely to make sure things improve, which has to happen quickly and dramatically. Camden’s electric car owners deserve better.”

Camden’s charge points are currently maintained by two separate companies – Podpoint and Elektromotive  - under contracts with Camden Council arranged by the Mayor if London’s ‘Source London’ initiative.

Under this scheme, Boris Johnson’s 2009 Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan aimed for more than 25,000 locations to be live by 2015, but as of today there are only 1,300 Source London public charge points in the city, with huge numbers out of action at any time. The Mayor’s target has now been deleted and abandoned in the latest revision to the London Plan, which sets no specific future goals for the network at all.

Camden Greens have also discovered there is also no automatic system for alerting the contractors to a fault and a very inefficient process for arranging repairs. Currently, residents who  find a charge point isn’t working tell Camden Council, who then contact the contractors to ask for a repair, and the cost is then claimed back by Camden from Source London.

Information on maintenance of the 75 charge points in Camden and released to Camden Green Party under Freedom of Information is as follows:

In the calendar year 2013 Source London received 187 faults reports related to Camden chargepoints (126 for Elektromotive and 61 Pod Point).  The average time to resolve a problem and close a ticket was 402 hours (approx 17 days)

The detailed breakdown of fix times is as follows:

  • Less than 24 hours: 19%
  • Between 24 hours and 3 days: 14%
  • Between 3 days and 5 days: 8%
  • Between 5 days and 10 days: 16%
  • Between 10 days and 20 days: 18%
  • Between 20 days and 40 days: 16%
  • more than 40 days: 9%

Overall the tickets logged account for 75,318 hours of charge points being under maintenance in 2013. In total there was potential availability of 245,280 hours (365 days x 24 hours x 28 charge points) and therefore the 75,318 hours of maintenance reduced the overall availability to 69%. 

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