Friday, July 8, 2016

Ecotricity Whacks British Drivers With High EV Charging Fee

Ecotricity is the exclusive provider of EV charging equipment on England’s motorways. Recently, it decided the best way to balance the need for chargers along major highways with the cost of operating the system was to impose a flat fee for a 20 minute charge. Ecotricity uses only renewable energy to power its charging stations. The number it came up with is £5 — almost $7.00 before Brexit but more like $6.00 afterwards. British motorists are outraged.
EV charging in the UK
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the best selling plug-in hybrid cars in the UK. 20 minutes on a charger will get the battery to about a 50% state of charge. That’s good for around 15 miles of all electric driving. The same distance would cost around $2.50 in gasoline.
In an email sent out to its users, Ecotricity said: “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 kickstart 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 move makes it almost pointless to charge plug-in hybrid vehicles at motorway service stations now. It seems like a step in the wrong direction as more and more manufacturers are adding plug-in hybrid cars to their line-ups. Hyundai launched its new Ioniq hybrid this week — with a plug-in hybrid version set to follow next year. The change in pricing policy comes just as the UK Department for Transport reveal that 45% of drivers are put off buying an electric car due to concerns over charging.
Ecotricity added: “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.”
The ‘pay-per-use’ EV charging system is being rolled out across the network starting on Monday July 11 and is expected to be completed by Friday August 5. EV drivers who wish to continue to use the Ecotricity stations will have to download the company’s mobile app, which will show available chargers and allow them to pay online.
One of the selling points for electric cars is supposed to be lower operating costs compared to gasoline and diesel. That equation still works for cars like the Nissan LEAF but not for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Perhaps the charging fee is fair. After all, it cost a lot of money to install and maintain 300 DC fast chargers. But the time allowed may be much too short for the fee assessed. No matter how you slice it, it still has gotten some people upset and is doing nothing to promote driving electric cars. Here’s one tweet from a disgruntled customer.

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