Kia has launched KiaCharge, giving owners of Kia battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) access to over 13,900 chargers across the UK from a single account.
This is equivalent to around 68% of public chargers, the company said. Charging networks signed up to the roaming service include BP Pulse, Pod Point, IONITY, Source London, Chargepoint, NewMotion, Char.gy and ESB.
Two tariffs are available, with the ‘Easy’ tariff offering a one-off £1.99 charge to access the service and obtain the KiaCharge RFID card. This tariff has no monthly subscription fees, although most charging stations instead require a £0.49 session fee when users plug in – excluding chargers on the BP Pulse and Pod Point networks – with users paying per kWh of electricity.
The ‘Plus’ tariff is a £2.99 monthly tariff that has no upfront charge or session fees, although users also pay per kWh. However, users do have a 15% discount per kWh on most networks, with this excluding BP Pulse, Pod Point and IONITY.
Additionally, users can add a new or existing BP Pulse bolt-on subscription, which costs an additional £7.85 per month and offers a discount of up to 40% when charging on the network. An IONITY bolt-on tariff is to be launched later in 2021 with the launch of Kia’s next-generation BEV, which will be able to accommodate the high-speed charging capabilities of the IONITY network.
Drivers also receive a single monthly invoice for using the KiaCharge service rather than individual bills for each charge.
Access to the network is granted through either the RFID card or through the KiaCharge smartphone app, which is compatible with iOS and Android devices. The app allows drivers to see real-time information for individual networks or charging points, including pricing, availability and technical information such as the type of plug available.
Filters can also be applied to locate the ideal station by chargepoint operator, charging speed, time of operation, socket type or access method i.e via RFID card or app.
Kia has plans to expand the service - which was created in partnership with Digital Charging Solutions - throughout 2021. It also offers drivers access to over 178,000 additional charging points across 28 other European countries without the need for additional contracts.
Paul Philpott, president & CEO of Kia Motors (UK) Limited, said that the availability and suitability of public chargers "remains a perceived hurdle for many would-be electric car buyers".
"KiaCharge seeks to remedy this by providing a comprehensive, easy-to-use public charging service for our customers, accessible from a single account. This is a major step for Kia as we look for new ways to make EV ownership a more viable and stress-free option for many more drivers.”
The government is currently consulting on a variety of methods of introducing further roaming to the UK public charging network, including the introduction of a roaming platform by the government, a market-led approach and a requirement for all chargers to be accessible by a QR code that would direct users to a payment platform.
Other services such as Octopus' Electric Juice network have been launched, as well as a variety of roaming agreements made between chargepoint operators.