FT Electric highway chargers at Moto Rugby

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it has closed its investigation into EV charging at motorway service stations after it agreed to accept undertakings from the companies involved.

It has also published an open letter warning motorway service area companies and chargepoint operators to ensure they comply with competition law, and noting that fines for breaching the rules can be up to 10% of a company’s worldwide turnover.

The undertakings offered by Gridserve, which owns The Electric Highway, were published by CMA in November and put out for consultation.

It has agreed:

  • not to enforce exclusive rights in contracts with Extra, Moto or Roadchef, after November 2026, which currently cover around two-thirds of motorway service areas in the UK. In doing so, Gridserve has committed to reducing the length of the exclusive rights in the current contracts with Moto by around two years and Roadchef by around four years (its contract with Extra is due to end in 2026).
  • not to enforce exclusive rights at any Extra, Moto or Roadchef sites that are granted funding under the UK government’s Rapid Charging Fund (RCF). This means that, in such cases, competitor chargepoint operators will be allowed to install chargepoints regardless of the exclusivity in The Electric Highway’s contracts.

Each of the motorway service area operators – Extra, Moto and Roadchef – and Gridserve have also promised not to take any action that would undermine these commitments.

Ann Pope, the CMA’s senior director of antitrust, said: “We need a combination of investment now and healthy competition going forward to make sure chargepoints are installed at scale where people need them, for a fair price.

“Today’s commitments strike the right balance. Gridserve will continue to invest in the much-needed roll-out of chargepoints across the country but the exclusivity linked to its investment won’t be an undue barrier to others competing in the near future.”

The deal will allow the RCF to be rolled out as planned. This funding is intended to encourage the installation of chargepoints at motorway service areas, but it is expected to only be available for sites with more than one chargepoint operator. Without the commitments, Gridserve would have retained exclusivity at the vast majority of motorway service areas and wide take-up of the RCF would not have been possible.

In a company statement Gridserve said: “In order to retain our focus on delivering the necessary charging infrastructure, Gridserve pursued a path towards offering commitments to the CMA at a very early stage in proceedings, which we are pleased have now been accepted. The commitments were accepted and investigation closed without any decision or admission of a breach of competition rules.”