I had an email this morning from Ecotricity. It basically outlined, that going forward they will be charging for EV users to access their Electric Highway. As an EV user you might think i would be upset by this and in some respects it’s a shame, but only so far as its a bit more hassle now that i need to have an app and set up an account and i will need to change the way i drive. I have used the Electric Highway many times and will use it many times again… Its awesome and thanks to ecotricity for providing it free of charge for so long.
A few things however instantly spring to mind: Firstly I think this move will in the short term mean they probably won’t need to invest (their reason for doing this) in more charge points at present locations as they won’t be needed. As a Nissan Leaf driver I often have to wait for 20 minutes or more while all the PHEV drivers charge up their 30-mile range. In the future this won’t happen and it will only be true electric users that use them so the requirements will fall off quite dramatically.
It does also create an issue however and that in relation to maximising the range and distance. A leaf for example will charge very quickly up to 80% and then take significantly longer to charge the final 20%. The way the motorway services are set out and depending upon the state of charge from the outset it is often more efficient to have a quick boost of energy over say ten minutes and then stop further along the motorway for you lunch (some services are better than other). Also on a long trip, two quick 15 minutes’ charges is often much more efficient (and gives significantly more range) than one 30-minute charge. As I will be paying per charge, this ability to benefit from the 80% quick charging effect will now not be viable and it will mean I have to sit around for much longer to get a full charge each time.
Also on their FAQ they say it will be £5 for a 20-minute fast charge, a full charge takes longer but it does not say if it will cost more.
It’s a bit more hassle and there are still some unanswered questions. They do say you can still get it for free if sign up as an ecotricity customer. Plenty to think about…
My final point 4 days notice is shocking. What if i was on holiday now had issues downloading/registering the app and could not get home because i could not charge my car. A bit more notice would have been preferable.
Read the letter below from Ecotricity.
Dear Alex Baker
I’m writing to you as a member of the Electric Highway to let you know of a significant change to our service.
After five years of providing charging for free, we’re moving to a ‘charging for charging’ model.
When we began in July 2011, there was a bit of a chicken and egg situation – people were reluctant to buy electric cars because there were no charging facilities being built, but nobody wanted to build those facilities while there were still so few cars on the road. That’s when we jumped in to help kick-start the electric car revolution in Britain.
And that’s going pretty well: today there are over 40 models to choose from and 64,000 plug-ins on the road. The Electric Highway itself comprises almost 300 electricity pumps – of the fast charging variety.
The combination of more cars on the road and faster charging means we’re now delivering two million miles of clean driving each month – all powered from the wind and sun. That’s a great result. It’s also a growing cost. And to keep pace with demand, we need to build more electricity pumps – at existing and new locations.
So the time has come for us to charge – for charging.
We’ve taken a lot of feedback from EV drivers in order to arrive at the right pricing model. We’ve decided that a simple flat fee of a fiver for a 20-minute fast charge strikes the right balance.
Here’s how it will all work and when it will all happen
First, we’ve created an Electric Highway app. You’ll need this app to use our pumps once we’ve changed over to the ‘charging for charging’ model.
The app will have other features that you’ll find useful. It will show you a live feed of our entire network so you can see the location and availability of your nearest pump, making it easier for you to plan your journeys. You’ll be able to track the progress of your charge with the app’s charging countdown, and there’ll be other features coming in the future.
The transition to ‘charging for charging’ will require a hardware upgrade of each pump. We’ll start that work on Monday 11 July and we’re aiming to have the entire network finished by Friday 5 August.
During this transition period, you’ll need the app for some pumps and your swipe card for others. The app itself will tell you which pumps have switched over to the new charging model.
Once the work is complete, our entire network will only be usable through the Electric Highway app.
We’ve updated the FAQs on the Ecotricity website to provide more information, should you need it.
I hope this is all clear and that you’ll understand our need to finally move to ‘charging for charging’ – it’s the next vital step in the evolution of the Electric Highway and it will allow us to continue to reinvest in improving and expanding the network.
Viva the EV revolution 🙂
Thanks for being with us