When Ecotricity first launched the Electric Highway – a series of rapid charge points across England, Scotland and Wales – the service was free to use. This helped attract many new owners of electric vehicles who were otherwise put off at the prospect of running out of juice along the roadside, with nowhere in-between towns and cities to charge their car rapidly.
However, things had to change. The company was spending a fortune not only on creating the service and maintaining the rapid chargers, but also providing ever-more electricity to recharge the increase in number of plug-in vehicles on our roads.
Almost exactly a year ago, the company introduced ‘Charge for Charge’, which was a simple scheme to facilitate the on-going expansion of the network, while at the same time preventing hogging of charge points or abusing the free-giving nature of the company. Unfortunately, the scheme was perhaps a little too simple. Owners of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV who wanted to capitalise on their zero-emission driving range and CHAdeMO rapid charge port were suddenly being charged £6 for fewer than 30-miles of real world range. For others, it offered not enough time plugged in, as the 30-minute time cap meant arriving with anything less than 20% battery would make the service expensive. In addition, arriving with a half full battery would also make the service expensive, in relation to miles/kWh. Drivers who used the previously free service for short ten minute topups were also put off and so the result was the simple scheme actually introduced a great number of complexitites plug-in vehicle owners had not encountered before.
Fortunately, Ecotricity is a company that listens to its customers and although it has taken almost a year to reach, the Charge for Charge payment system has undergone a complete overhaul.
From 26th June 2017, the Electric Highway will cost £3 per session plus 17 pence per unit and a time cap of 45-minutes. In all, this is a fairer system than before and should re-introduce the prospect of charging a plug-in hybrid vehicle like the Outlander and enable people to use the network for quick topups too.
Using the Outlander as an example, it should cost no more than £4.70 (£3 connection fee + 10 units at £0.17 each) to charge it, whereas it previously cost £6 on the flat rate scheme. Likewise, users who wish to only do a quick ten-minute top up to reach their destination will appreciate the same reduction in price.
For some, the new scheme may prove more expensive. For example, a Nissan Leaf 30kWh that would have previously cost £6 for a 30-minute charge on the flat may now cost more, with a thereretical maximum of £8.10 (£3 connection fee + 30 units at £0.17 each). Please note, we appreciate arriving at 0% is unlikely. Nevertheless, the scheme appears to offer a more flexible service than has existed over the past year and a fairer price plan by charging customers for what they use rather than by time.
To find out more, read the official newsletter from Ecotricity below.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.
Almost a year ago we introduced ‘charging for charging’ on the Electric Highway, after being free to use for five years.
At the time we had limited options for the basis of that charging and opted for the £6 for 30 minutes, as the best ‘one size fits all’ that we could offer.
We said at the time that we would monitor use of the Highway, use that data and customer feedback – and produce a more sophisticated approach to charging, as soon as we could.
We’ve done that now.
The new model that we’ve developed will give more flexibility and typically lower charging costs across all makes and models.
The main issue we’ve been wrestling with is the fixed time period charging and the different amounts of energy that various models can use in that time – coupled with the need to reflect in the pricing model the costs of installing and running the infrastructure, not just the cost of energy.
To better balance these issues we are separating the cost of energy from the cost of providing the service.
The energy will be charged at 17p per unit, which is pretty much the rate that people pay at home and the cost of providing the service will be via a £3 connection fee for all sessions.
In our modelling this will typically lower the cost of charging for all makes and models as well as charge more proportionally for energy taken.
We’ve also increased the maximum length of charging sessions to 45 mins to offer greater flexibility to those customers who need a bit longer to charge up.
For Ecotricity customers there will be no connection fee, to reflect that our customers’ energy bills help us build this network.
Our new approach will operate from the 26th June.