A number of electric car drivers have been fined by private parking companies for charging their vehicles in public.
While the motorists are within their rights to park on the premises, penalties are being issued because the maximum stay rules have not been updated since the charging points were installed.
In some cases, drivers have been sent fines amounting to £120 for overstaying their welcome at service stations and in private car parks.
But they argue that the allocated parking time is insufficient for a full charge.
In some cases, drivers have been fined for using publicly advertised charge points without separately informing the hotel or shop where it is located.
James Warren realised that his Tesla was about to run out of power as he drove from Birmingham to London.
He told The Times: “I found somewhere to charge in a hotel car park [in Weybridge]. It took around 45 minutes, then I paid on my app. I was aghast to receive an £80 fine from Parkingeye, saying I had parked in the hotel’s car park without permission.”
Another driver said he was given a £120 penalty after using a charger for more than 100 minutes in a McDonald’s car park in London.
He was fined by Met Parking Services because the time limit was 90 minutes.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “It is unfair some EV drivers are being penalised for errors outside of their control.”
Philip Riley realised the charger was faulty after about an hour at a Moto service station in Reading.
He said he “had to move to a second charging bay, and wait for enough power to get home”.
Riley, who had his blue disabled badge displayed in his Nissan Leaf, later received a £120 parking fine from CP Plus, halved for fast payment.
He said: “As a new electric car owner, I didn’t realise I’d have to pay twice for the parking ‘experience’ as well as the power.”
CP Plus said: “We only manage the car parks for the landowners and do not have any responsibility for the fabric including EV charging points.”
Lidl also came under fire after its parking agent fined drivers £90 for failing to register their number plates alongside a purchase.
The supermarket said that a recent change of policy meant only 12 of its stores still demanded that drivers buy something in its shops to use its chargers, and that requirement had been waived when branches were closed.
Parkingeye said it “strongly advises motorists using an EV point within a private car park to read the signage”.
Drivers are to be given greater protection from “rogue” private parking firms later this year as a shake-up comes into force – capping the maximum fine.
The new measures will see the ceiling fine slashed from £100 to £50 for most cases in England and Wales. Although it will exclude London.
Private car parks will also have to display prices more clearly, use a fairer appeal system and give drivers a 10-minute grace period for lateness, under the proposals.
More drivers are expected to turn to electric vehicles in the next decade as a ban on diesel comes into force.
Behind the push to greener transport will be the UK’s first full-scale “gigafactory” making batteries for electric cars and other vehicles in Blyth, Northumberland.
The once vast wasteland is to be transformed into a £3.8billion hi-tech plant the size of 50 football pitches employing 3,000 high-skilled workers, under a regeneration project.
Plans are due to start this April, after the government pledged £100million of taxpayers’ money.
The Government says it will ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030 – just eight years’ time.
It has sparked fevered interest in electric cars, with manufacturers unable to keep up with demand.
More than one in four new cars sold last month was electric and trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers predicts sales will soar 75% to 348,000 by next year.
But the truth is, electric cars are still out of the reach of many buyers, partly because of the cost.
Supporters point to the cost over time, rather than just upfront.
But three times as many electric cars were sold in the South East as in the North West last year, with many bought through company schemes.