Update 11.07.2016: Ecotricity’s Electric Highway App has been updated and now states a £6 cost for 30 minutes charging.
Ecotricity’s founder and CEO Dale Vince has announced via newsletter that the hugely popular Electric Highway network of rapid chargers is about to start, “charging for charging” for the first time since it was put in place.
Ecotricity has, up until now, provided the convenience of rapid chargers dotted about the country at core locations including motorway services and near large junction points and destinations like Land’s End. The new cost to charge will be £5 for 20-minutes of charge. The company says that the decision has been made as plug-in cars have surpassed 2-million electric miles/month provided by the network alone and mounting costs. The company will invest further into the network with the installation of more charge points too.
However, if you’re an Ecotricity energy customer the Electric Highway will remain free of charge for those with an electric car. The company says that now is a great time to make the switch and they also provide £40/year off your energy bills, simply for owning an electric car.
Charging will require a new Electric Highway App (available for Android and iOS) to operate upgraded charge points – a process that is expected to be completed by the 5th August. The new app also provides a live status of the pumps, something Ecotricity has been working on for the past year.
The news will come as a shock to seasoned electric vehicle drivers who have benefitted from a free to use network. £5 for a 20-minute charge will be the equivalent to providing around 16kWh of energy on average – enough to fill a Mitsubishi i-MiEV from zero to 100%, but only a little more than half the charge for a Nissan Leaf 30kWh. This is a fair bit more than it would cost to charge at home, but has the benefit of being far quicker to charge.
It is likely that electric vehicle owners will see both a benefit to the move to charge, despite suddenly being faced with outgoing payments to run their car. Many EV owners had criticised the Electric Highway for allowing vehicles to be left plugged in for hours, without the ability to unplug them. Plug-in hybrids that arguably did not need to plug-in were often the target of annoyed electric car drivers who were forced to wait while the PHEV driver was nowhere to be seen. The move to charge for electricity should alleviate this problem and give back the charge points to those who really need them.
Unfortunately, it may mean that plug-in hybrid vehicle owners are reluctant to plug their vehicles in and thus not take advantage of their vehicle’s electric drive system and instead rely more on the petrol engine, which would be worse for the environment especially as they gain in popularity. However, most plug-in hybrids do not currently support rapid charging that’s provided by the Electric Highway, so this should in reality only affect a few Outlander PHEV owners.
Ecotricity’s move to begin charging will also likely cause a greater rush to charge at points that remain free to use, such as those provided by Source schemes around the country.
If you have become dependent on the Electric Highway for travelling in your electric car, now would be a good time to switch to Ecotricity if you haven’t already.
To read the full message from Ecotricity, see below.
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 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 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.
P.S. Nearly forgot … the Electric Highway will still be free to use for Ecotricity energy customers – so if you’re not already a customer, now is a pretty good time to switch. You’ll not only get free use of the Electric Highway, we’ll give you a discount on your energy just for having an electric car. If you’d like to switch, just click here.