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FEES for public charging electric vehicles (EVs) are now likely to be introduced from mid-summer, it has been learned.

That is later than previously expected as exact fees for charging have yet to be worked out. It is understood extensive ‘consultation processes’ are ‘ongoing’.

In the meantime, drivers are being promised a much-improved charging service now initial work to overhaul the national network has begun.

One of the big complaints from owners, and prospective buyers, of electric vehicles (EVs) has been the poor and random quality of charging points and locations.

However, ESB ecars – set up in 2010 to operate and maintain the national charging network – say there should be a noticeable improvement in many parts of the country. There are currently 1,100 public charge points across the island.

The latest upgrades go hand-in-hand with plans to begin charging customers for using the service by mid-summer. To justify that, the quality of service first needs to be vastly improved.

ESB ecars say they’ve started replacing older fast-charging models with new multi-standard models. A number of those are at Circle K service stations around the country.

Once the upgrades are finished, it is expected that fees will first be levied for use of existing 50kW fast chargers. That is now looking likely to be mid-summer, according to a spokeswoman. It is understood that wide-ranging “consultations” are “ongoing” over how much, and exactly when, the fees will be introduced.

Those using the AC standard chargers, or elements of the slow charging network, are likely to get a reprieve and will not have to pay until early next year – or possibly even later.

The company claims work on the system improves the quality of and provides more fast charging options for EVs, especially models from Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Kia and Hyundai that use the ‘CCS Combo’ charging standard.

The ever-increasing numbers of EVs also make the step-up imperative. New and imported EV registrations came to nearly almost 2,100 last month. That’s more than three times (600) the total for the corresponding month last year.

A better system should encourage more people to buy an EV next time around too.

Marguerite Sayers, the ESB’s executive director customer solutions, says: “Since the beginning of this year we’ve replaced many of the oldest fast chargers across the country.”

She adds: “We’ll continue to work with EV drivers and stakeholders as we move to the next phase of introducing payment for fast charging, which will help fund ongoing investment.”

As an example of improvements, eight fast-charge points at Circle K-owned service stations have been upgraded with multi-standard fast chargers.

These include: Sexton St North, Thomondgate, Limerick; Airport Road, Tullyvaragh, Shannon; Castlemaine St (Dublin road), Athlone; Newlands Cross, Fonthill road, Clondalkin, Dublin;

Promenade road, Dublin Port; Finglas road, Glasnevin; Templeville road, Dublin 6 and Frankfield service station, Douglas, Cork.

A further nine fast-charge points have been upgraded at: Barack Obama Plaza, Moneygall, Offaly; Randles Nissan, Muckross Road, Killarney; Four Lakes retail park, Dublin road, Carlow; Emo service station, M9 Junction10, Knocktopher, Kilkenny;

Londis, Sligo road, Grange; Amber Centra service station, Rosslare road, Killinick, Wexford; Abbey Court Hotel, Nenagh; Drinagh Motors, Rosslare road, Drinagh, Wexford; Tobin’s, Port Road, Letterkenny, Donegal.

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