Automotive

Charging for charging: UK EV drivers to lose free power privileges

Charging for charging: UK EV d...
Ecotricity's Electric Highway is moving from a free-to-use network to pay-per-charge
Ecotricity's Electric Highway is moving from a free-to-use network to pay-per-charge
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Ecotricity's Electric Highway is moving from a free-to-use network to pay-per-charge
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Ecotricity's Electric Highway is moving from a free-to-use network to pay-per-charge
At £5 (US$6.50) for a 20-minute charge, Ecotricity says the cost will still be significantly less than the equivalent for petrol or diesel
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At £5 (US$6.50) for a 20-minute charge, Ecotricity says the cost will still be significantly less than the equivalent for petrol or diesel
Ecotricity says its has EV chargers at 96 percent of British motorway service stations
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Ecotricity says its has EV chargers at 96 percent of British motorway service stations

UK electric vehicle drivers are set to lose their free access to charging points provided by Ecotricity. The green energy supplier, which says its Electric Highway car charging network is the most comprehensive in both the UK and Europe, has announced that 20-minute rapid charging will now cost £5 (US$6.50). The network will remain free to access for Ecotricity's domestic energy customers.

The first Electric Highway charger was installed in 2011 and the network now comprises a total of 296 chargers, of which 276 are rapid chargers. The firm says its has chargers at 96 percent of British motorway service stations and that, in the five years the network has been running, it has provided £2.5 million (US$3.2 million) worth of free travel. Ecotricity tells Gizmag that, although it works with major car manufacturers and the government to install its chargers, the network is wholly owned by the company itself.

It cites one of its initial reasons for rolling out the Electric Highway network as helping to "kickstart Britain's electric car revolution," pointing to an initial chicken-and-egg scenario whereby people wouldn't buy EVs if there weren't enough public chargers available and companies wouldn't roll-out chargers if there weren't enough EVs on the road. To help further catalyze matters, Ecotricity has offered access to its Electric Highway network completely free of charge, until now.

Ecotricity says its has EV chargers at 96 percent of British motorway service stations
Ecotricity says its has EV chargers at 96 percent of British motorway service stations

Having seen usage of its network treble in 2015, the firm says that it is now necessary to start charging for access so that the network can be maintained and continue to grow. The existing swipe card system is set to be phased out and, in future, the network's 40,000 members will need to download a new mobile app for Android and iOS. This will show the location and availability of charging stations, as well as provide a means of payment.

Ecotricity says it chose a charging time block of 20 minutes because research shows that this is the average length of stay at motorway service stations. In addition, many EVs can now be charged to around 80 percent of battery capacity in that time. At £5 per session, the firm says that the cost will still be significantly less than the equivalent cost for petrol or diesel.

If a customer stops charging before the 20 minute slot is up, it will still cost £5. Each charging session will end after 20 minutes, so if drivers need more juice, they'll have to cough up another fiver.

Ecotricity needs to implements the changes to the Electric Highway network manually at each charging point. Work is scheduled to begin on July 11 and is expected to be completed by August 5, meaning some chargers will remain card-operated and free for a little longer than others.

Source: Ecotricity

6 comments
bfearn
Crapitalism in action. The don't want to charge for the electricity you use plus a reasonable mark up. They want to make healthy profit off drivers trying to reduce their carbon footprint. Profit first, planet second.
foxpup
The problem is a shortage of capitalism. Just look at the image! Anyone with an EV knows that the cars are parked the wrong way. The whole situation is Bass- Ackwards. There's lots of ways to make money here but the designers have their heads up their "you know whats" with socialist-greenie thinking. I've been driving EV for 3 years now and have no plan to go back to ICE systems any time soon. I love the mechanical simplicity, tremendous handling, and acceleration that even modest EVs offer. That said, I have never charged up at a public station and the reason is simple. My car can take an 80% charge in 20 minutes like the article states but I don't want to wait around in the pictured setting while doing so. You can't put more than $3 of electriciy in my LEAF so that's all I can take. Meanwhile anyone running the facility has a captive audience for 20 minutes. Where's the convenience store? Where's the restrooms or even a bench to sit on. This kind of charging site is pathetic and not profitable which is sad considering the loss of opportunity. For those greenies out there, it would be good to cover the roof of the needed convenience store with solar panels to power both the store and the chargers. I tell you, there's money to be made, but you need to play it smart. Otherwise you will just be looking for charging for charging from chargers the public doesn't use.
BigGoofyGuy
The price seems reasonable when compared to gas prices. I think making a profit is a good thing. I think it will open it up for others who would want to make a profit and the price - to be competitive - will come down (IMO).
JemThomas
the commenter above is clearly not familiar with the "delight" that is a UK motorway service station, just out of shot is a fast food junkies paradise (albeit at a 10% premium over high street prices). I am not convinced as to ECOtricities pricing model but time will tell on that. It is interesting to note that if you are a domestic customer then charging is free so perhaps that is the cunning plan, capture the customer's entire energy spend which makes a lot of sense from ECOtricities point of view. This will allow them to invest in more green energy generation which can't be a bad thing. Clearly the whole EV model has to be sustainable both environmentally and financially, this is a step forward, if a tad too expensive.
Agent.Smith
Foxpup, from a quick check on ecotricity 's Our Electric Highway page, shows that the charging stations tend to be at motorway/highway service stations where there will be shops & cafes. Electricity in UK is more expensive than USA.
Catweazle
"It is interesting to note that if you are a domestic customer then charging is free..." No it isn't. It has to be paid for at the standard rate to the utility company.