Autovolt Magazine

Updates to Ecotricity’s Electric Highway

Nissan e-NV200 charging at an Ecotricity Electric Highway charge point - PHOTO: Jonathan Musk

Ecotricity has announced some alterations to its Electric Highway that are worthy of mention. In an open email from Dale Vince, Founder and CEO, the next stage of improvements to the currently free service are being made.

The first change is the helpline which will now operate in normal working hours, between 8.30am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. In a bid to offer support for the most common telephone queries, updates will be made to user guides and frequently asked questions on their website;

Acknowledgement of previous hardware faults has been made and an assurance that upgrades to all the charge points is being undertaken and proving successful in, “ironing out some lingering faults”.

The 50 or so AC charge points currently out of action are scheduled to be put back online in the coming months and progress of these can be found using the standard Ecotricity online map:

Further to the maps not quite live status, and as reported in the current issue of AutoVolt, Ecotricity are working on a new backend system, a smartphone App and real time availability of their charge points.

Despite the reduced telephone help support times, expansion of the Electric Highway will continue, with the doubling up of charge points at current locations and an increase in support for the CCS standard, such as is used by the VW e-up!, e-Golf and BMW i3, to name but a few.

Further plans for expansion come in the way of moving from motorway services, to major “strategic” A-roads, including the A30 to Cornwall and the A55 in Wales. Similarly, Scotland’s John O’Groats will receive a charge point too, albeit at a time TBA.

Airports are a part of the next wave of installations too, with Liverpool airport already having gone live and Birmingham expected to go live by the end of March.

The Electric Highway has delivered its first one million miles a month, a clear sign of the times and that EV adoption is an increasing phenomenon. By contrast, it took almost two years before the first million miles were delivered by the Electric Highway.

The announcement by Ecotricity comes at a time when electric cars in the UK are outselling the rest of its European cousins. Sales of both pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (both of which are currently eligible for the government’s Plug-in Car Grant (PICG) have increased significantly between 2014 and 2015. The latest figures from the SMMT, shows a more than 1,000% increase in plug-in hybrid vehicles and a more than 300% increase for battery electric vehicles. The up-take of plug-in cars does not appear to have been affected in the slightest by recent reductions in price of petrol and diesel, contrary to suggestions by sceptics.

SMMT - February 2015 – EV registrationsOriginal Ecotricity Electric Highway email:

We’re making some changes to the opening hours of our Electric Highway telephone support, starting tomorrow, Tuesday 10th March.

From tomorrow, our telephone support will be available 8.30am – 5.30pm from Monday to Friday. We’re no longer available outside of those hours.

We’ll have greater online resources available from tomorrow, addressing the most common issues that customers do call us about. We’re updating our user guides and uploading new Q&As, too – and we’ll continue to add to those resources throughout the year.

You may be aware that we’ve been upgrading the rapid chargers across the network to iron out some lingering faults, too. That upgrade is going very well – and we’ve made significant progress through what is a network-wide upgrade, addressing a systemic hardware problem.

While this work is being completed, we have about 50 AC charge points currently out of action. They will be coming back online in the next few weeks and you can keep track of progress on our website here. But please be aware there is a time lag and our web site is not fully live right now.  This is something else we are working on in the next few months; new backend systems, a user App, and a real time availability map.

We’re continuing to double up the number of chargers at each location and increasing the number of CCS chargers, too.

We’ve also begun to focus on strategic A roads, usually where the motorway network doesn’t extend – for example, in Wales (A55) and the south west (A30), leading all the way down to Land’s End. We’re looking at Scotland up to John O’ Groats as well, though this will take a little longer.

Beyond A roads and the motorway network, we’re looking at other types of locations where we can install our pumps to good effect – airports are a good example. We’re up and running at Liverpool Airport now and we’ll be live at Birmingham Airport by the end of March.
I’m sure we’ll have some teething issues along the way, but with your support we are evolving into the truly national network we all want to see.

Finally, something you may be interested to know – in February this year we delivered one million zero emission miles to Electric Highway members. The first million miles took nearly two years, so that’s quite a step change. Before this year ends we expect to be delivering two million miles a month – that’s a great reflection of the progress EVs are making in Britain.

The electric revolution continues.  Thank you for being a part of it.
Dale Vince

Source; Ecotricity, Electric Highway email newsletter & SMMT February sales figures.