Ecotricity Still Under Fire As £6 For 30-Minute Charging Close To At Par With Diesel

JUL 14 2016 BY MARK KANE 37

New Ecotricity program charges £6 for a 30 min boost in the UK

New Ecotricity program charges £6 for a 30 min boost in the UK

Ecotricity caused a storm in UK, as their nationwide fast charging network with multi-standard chargers switched recently from free to pay-per-use.

The British company initially announced a £5 charge for a 20-minute session, but then changed it (under public pressure) to a slightly more beneficial £6 for a 30-minute session.

Apparently that concession was not adequate enough, as echoes of the introduction of fees is still not sitting well with some. Recently Autocar published article entitled – “The day electricity became more expensive than diesel”.

Regardless of the fiscal realities for Ecotricity that prompted the change in the program, it’s not a great result from a marketing perspective for EVs if the general public now equates publicly charging electric cars as anything but economical.

“I read a story this morning from a Nissan Leaf owner who charged his battery from 50% for the requisite 30 minutes. The ambient temperature was 21 degrees, which is a pretty decent temperature for charging, yet at the end of the 30-minute session his battery was at 97% charged – the equivalent of around 49 miles of range. That pretty much tallies with my charging experiences, too. As the Leaf owner ruefully pointed out, his diesel car does a comfortable 55 miles on a gallon of diesel, which costs slightly less than the electricity.”

We do have to note that the circumstances surrounding this charge does not truly paint an accurate portrait of the charging situation, as the LEAF in question could have accepted more charge if it was less full when it arrived at the station.  The Nissan LEAF, like all battery electric cars, tapers the DC fast charge as the battery approaches capacity.  In truth, a 30 minute charge would net the owner around 80% of a fill if capacity was low – which was the aim of the pricing adjustment in the first place.

Renault ZOE powered almost entirely by renewable energy in Scotland

Renault ZOE in Scotland

The author of the article is a Renault ZOE owner, and according to his observation on the ZOE forum in UK, some folks are considering now sales of their cars.

“I’m not sure what customer feedback they were reading, because everything I’ve seen in the electric car forums (I lease a Renault Zoe) has been outright anger that the charge still appears to have made electricity more expensive than diesel overnight. Charging always seemed inevitable – you can’t expect free electricity forever – but I’d argue Ecotricity appears to have misjudged its cost structure.”

Perhaps this the author’s frustration is somewhat more justified based on his situation, as the Renault ZOE is especially wronged because it doesn’t accept as high a charge rates as the other popular models (up to 43 kW in some versions, and just 22 kW the in new R240 version).

The second reason the ZOE comes up short using the Ecotricity infrastrucuture, is because the Renault is also using three-phase electricity, and charging stations of such a type (22 kW 3-phase Type 2) are pretty inexpensive compared to DC fast chargers. If the fee is flat – ZOE owners using the multi-standard DC fast chargers are, in fact, heavily subsidizing other models.

Because the fee is time-based, the cheapest charging will be for cars that accept high power and have larger battery – like the Tesla Model S via CHAdeMO adapter, or the upcoming Bolt EV and next generation Nissan LEAF.

As always, the question really surrounds the charging infrastructure providers, and what they can do to lower pricing but still be able to turn a profit after the (very expensive) installation costs of the infrastructure.  For many, the answer is to charge by the kWh dispensed (where legally able).

source: Autocar

Categories: Charging

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37 Comments on "Ecotricity Still Under Fire As £6 For 30-Minute Charging Close To At Par With Diesel"

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Oh come on, that is really just auto car throwing rocks at ev’s. Yes the public fast charging is close to the price of diesel but you only buy power from a fast charger when you have to. It’s not like hydrocarbon fuels aren’t more expensive on the motorway.

And another thing if you are an Ecotricity customer the network is ‘free’.

At some point people have to make money without subsidy for ev’s to become mainstream. It drives me nuts that everyone is spitting the dummy on this, someone has to build and maintain the infrastructure. If it is industry then you pay, if it is government your taxed.

If you don’t like the pay per use model switch power companies.

This seems too much, considering diesel is much more expensive there.
Fast charging has never been free around here (Québec), but very convenient and in my view pretty cheap.
Because, I use it when I really need it only.
It’s fast, well maintain and if you know how to use it, very low battery and high enough temperature, you stuff more energy if you disconnect before it taper sharply at around 75% you so.
Last two charges I average a power of 38 kW and 40.8 kW! and I have a Leaf.
It amounts to about 24¢ (CA) / kWh.
Tree time more than at home!
Not free, but cheaper than diesel, for sure.
But many complain that it was too much anyway.

Fast Chargers should be for people who are traveling beyond the single charge range of their vehicle. While I don’t live in the UK, I would imagine that the Ecotricity network was being “abused” by people who could have charged their cars somewhere else for a modest cost. Free always distorts the marketplace and this is also true in EV charging.

One more point I would like to make is that Ecotricity always said that their network was free for a limited time. They just never said what their fee might be when they did start charging money for their services.

I will also point out that NRG eVgo charges occasional users $4.95 + $0.20/minute in California which is $10.95 for a 30 minute session. This is £8.20 by today’s exchange rate. Their other plan is $15/month (1 year minimum with ETF) plus $0.10/minute

Yes, you are right about EVgo, and they are the on the more expensive end of the spectrum. With Ecotricity’s revised rate of £6 for 30 minutes I have to tell you guys that they are right in the middle of the pack price wise.

I worry, particularly since this is Europe, that many of the loudest complainers have no place at home or at work to charge their cars. At this stage of the evolution of electric cars I think that’s unfortunate, but with free charging and high gas prices that’s what you get.

People need to remember that when the larger battery vehicles become the norm (i.e. 200 miles), you will get around 160 mile charge for £6 (nearly the cost of a gallon of Petrol/Diesel here in the UK) v 50-60 at best so it will not be that expensive at all.

Those who claim they only might need a quick top up of 5-15 mins probably won’t need to once these larger batteries are the norm.

Older EV’s with 70-100 mile range will most likely become 2nd family cars.

The vast majority will charge at home and only need to charge occasionally.

IMO it’s not that bad to get the infrastructure built out.

I agree. These 70-100 mile cars aren’t designed to be the type of car that some may be using them for now in the UK.
However, 160 miles range in 30 minutes as you said is not possible with current 50 kW infrastructure. But if the fast chargers get upgraded to 100-150 kW, and the price stays at £6, then what you said would be true.

I have filled my e-Golf from 12%-92% in 30 minutes on an ABB 50kW fast charger. That is 17.6kWh and about 70 miles of range added. So, yeah, 160 miles added in 30 minutes is Tesla Supercharger level charging, which Ecotricity clearly isn’t.

Anyway, £6 for 70 miles is only 8.5p/mile which really isn’t that bad. Clearly the guy in the story that started charging his Leaf from 50% really didn’t know how to get his money’s worth.

It’s not like commercial QC infrastructure providers can live from energy prices that are anywhere near the cost of home charging so yes, you will have to pay up big time for those times you venture outside the range of your car.

Guess you aren’t really paying for the energy so much as for using the charger for a certain amount of time. So much better deals should be possible once 60KWh+ batteries and 150KW chargers become the norm.

Yes, well either better deals or (as I think may be more likely) if a first gen 80 mile EV uses a 150 kW fast charger it will cost more than if a second gen EV does, and that will give incentive for 1st gen EVs to stick to the 50 kW fast chargers whenever possible, which is what will make for better customer experience all around. This is all in the future of course. I’m thinking there will have to be some kind of incentive to limit 1st gen EV use of 2nd gen chargers. A per minute billing would accomplish this, but not a per kWh billing.

Yep, we just signed up with ecotricity for household electricity. They charge the same as our current provider. So now we can charge up the Leaf for free on the rare occasions that we travel long distance plus have the added benefit of a house that runs on renewable energy. They also encourage ev adoption by providing an annual credit of £40 for households with an electric car which should give us around 2,000 free miles. We have owned the Leaf for almost three years and covered 30,000 miles but have only needed to use public charging a handful of times. That’s why the whole ‘same price as diesel’ argument is nonsense.


I see your situation as how this should work. You win, ecotricity wins and your old power company who weren’t willing to take a risk on a new technology and business model loose.

I think it is time for electricity companies to wake up and realize that EV drivers are really, really good electricity customers. Once they’ve thought about that for a while perhaps they should start to think about what the barriers to EV adoption are and how they can change their business, or offer new products, to remove those barriers. They should also be thinking about how to make money from the new normal.

I’m quite comfortable with greedy but for god’s shake be greedy and smart not greedy and dumb.

Just discovered the ‘free’ charging for customers is limited to 52 sessions a year. It’s in the T&C’s under 13. fair use policy. Also your year starts at the point you register using the app.

Wow.. 52!! That’s a lot of fast charges worth more than £300. If what Neil says is true about Ecotricity’s rates being close to some other providers, then THERE’S NO NEED TO COMPLAIN!!!

Well, it’s not much different than Car Charging group charging the equivalent of $6-$9/gallon gasoline in the US for their Level 2 charging.

Which, by the way, is why they’ll go bankrupt. They are nowhere near the optimal supply/demand price point.

What the British are not able to accept is that electricity is almost free. If you buy a Nissan Leaf and add on the price the cost of four 250 watt solar panels; these panels will produce more electricity than the car needs to travel the average annual mileage. The question is how to store that energy and how to get it into the car nation wide. Of course Ecotricity is not a charity organization. They pay for the production and transmission and distribution. At the end of the day they are abusing the British public because Britain is a small island and highly populated and not many have panels over their houses and the government is not allowing the network of electricity to be shared and used by the ordinary house hold, where he can produce electricity from his home and put it on the network to collect it from another site and at a different time. The British government will never allow that. This is a disadvantage for the British and put a limit on the overall efficiency of the UK. This is compounded because the UK does not have natural resources to sell or even sustain life… Read more »
Do I detect a Brexit-based anti-UK sentiment in your reply…? From my perspective (as a 5 year EV driver) Ecotricity is only doing what every other rapid charge point provider is doing. Their rate is average, too. Ecotricity has said all along that they would charge eventually. I am just very grateful that their initially free network encouraged a lot of people to buy EVs because it removed a large chunk of one of the 3 barriers to mass EV uptake; range anxiety. In reality, if paying £6 to use ecotricity’s rapids is now causing you a problem then you were probably taking the micky out of them in the first place. I’m thinking Mitsubishi Outlander and BMW plug-in hybrids, here. Blocking a rapid charger from use by a *real* EV driver when you could just go and re-fuel across the way is positively ridiculous and plain unsociable. Unfortunately, though, where does this leave the EV owner who can’t charge at home or work (or on the way to work)? HMG is really going to have to get to grips with this issue – quickly – if their stated ambition of having EVs everywhere before too long is going to… Read more »

HMG already pays a lot to subsidize the ICE in the form of money directly to the British Oil industry and refinery. The refinery budget for electricity alone is enough to make the DCFC stations free for all for ever.

Seems to me those complaining about the per-kWh charge for a DC fast charge being priced about the same per mile as diesel, are ignoring the elephant in the room. It’s like complaining that a bag of potato chips at the convenience store costs a lot more than the same bag of chips at the supermarket.

What they’re missing is that they aren’t so much paying for electricity as paying for convenience. If you want cheap electricity, charge up at home or at work. If you use a DC fast charger, then expect to pay a per-minute convenience fee.

And of Ecotricity is price gouging on that convenience fee, then normal market forces — i.e., competition from other service providers — will either force them to reduce their fees, or drive them out of business.

Right!! Very well said.
It is a convenience, and their price is actually in line with DCFC providers in Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, US and elsewhere.

Ecotricity should have started charging gradually and charge per time with no arbitrary time limit. Having such a sudden jump and time restriction imposed will certainly turn many away from driving electric. Also they may be opening themselves to a stricter government oversight and regulation, which many not turn out well neither for them nor for their clients.

Boohoo. A lot of chargers out here cost 50c per kWh which is more than gas and that is USA gas, not UK petrol prices!

Okay,i have written this before and i do it again.

Id rather have plenty of and reliable chargers paying 10 pounds per 30min charge than not having any at all. In total price is still low.

On average an electric car is fast charging maybe 10 % of the energy used. The rest is being charged att home resulting in still very low running costs in total.

Actually the percentage of fast charging on average is 5% or even less. At least that’s what I’ve seen.

As many have already pointed out, the price per kWh of energy is irrelevant, and the price per mile is NOT more than fossil fuels here. As larger, faster-charging battery packs become more common this is even more true.

And of course it is nearly irrelevant even if it did cost a little bit more than fossil fuel, since 98% of charging is level one or two charging at home or at work.

It’s not like we can just forget all about economics.

A lot of other fast chargers like ChargePoint Genie which we have in Bude, Cornwall charge you £1.80 connection, then 30p/kWh which is more expensive and people do not complain…

Human stupidity never seizes to amaze! Norway has trodden this path before, and the experience is both crystal clear and well publicized. Still, Ecotricity insists on making the mistakes themselves..! ALL of the providers in Norway (Fortum, Grønn Kontakt, Arctic, …) have reached the same conclusion: the best pricing structure is per-minute charging because it minimizes inefficient use of DC points capable of delivering 50 kW when the battery pack can accept much less than that. Combined with type 2 points (at less than half the per-minute rate) people can still charge as full as they need to. Setting a fixed price for a fixed period regardless of whether you need to charge for five minutes or 35 minutes is just about the best way I can imagine to GUARANTEE inefficient use of the chargers – in other words to minimize their utility! It is IDIOCY of the highest order. I’ve personally experienced many times the situation where I might maybe make it home on what I’ve got, but I stop at the fast charger for five minutes just in case and drive home without a worry. If however I was supposed to pay “per use” I would of course… Read more »

I think your first sentence is a little “regertable”.

Yes!! You are so right you’re not wrong. Thank you Terawatt for adding a voice from Norway to show how it is there. Per minute billing… it’s what I’ve been saying in the comments of the last 2 articles here about Ecotricity. It seems to address the problems and serve customers well. The simplest solution long term. It really does eliminate inefficient use and help keep the fast charger available, which is not a little thing. In a mature market like Norway its the way to go, and in a market like the UK that’s headed that way fast, its the way to go too. Probably half the people charging would only need 10-15 minutes, so Ecotricity implementing this 30 minute plan is truly more inefficient than a simple per minute rate, since users are actually incentivized to stay longer! The availability of the service is one of the big aims in Ecotricity’s move, but with their change from 20 to 30 minutes they are actually moving the other direction! Here is a great blog news article from Charge & Drive about why per minute billing is the best. It’s titled: Pricing the fast charging of electric vehicles correctly ensures… Read more »

with gas at $2.5 the savings are minuscule when comparing running cost of prius vs leaf. without a carbon tax, it will not make economic sense.

Actually no. With ~95% of EV charging done at base it is far cheaper to drive electric. The ~5% public charging (of which most will be fast charging) doesn’t affect the cost much.
5% is the average. Some will be more, some less.

The calculations I just did say that its just less than $200 a year less for an EV than for a Prius. Basically it costs around $450 or so for an EV, and $650 or so for a Prius.
This is figuring 12k miles a year with gas at $2.50 a gallon, and with the cost of 5% yearly fast charging added to household electric costs per year with an EV.

In Sweden the fast charging stations where you have to pay it costs 17-25p a minute or 42p a kWh. I prefer the Company where you pay per kWh, then it dosen’t depend on how fast the charger(car or station) are.
I hope that Ecotricity change to a minute fee, must be more fair for you EV drivers in UK.

Except that as cars do not charge at the same rate throughout their charge there is no incentive for the driver to leave the charger for the next person

It’s a good thing then that you only have to do this about 3% of the times that you actually refill your battery. In the UK, you can charge at 220v using the free charger you got with your car, at any place there’s a plug in the wall. They literally don’t even need to bother with any L2 charging infrastructure.

I don’t get these complainers, what do you want, extra free lunch from for-profit company that is trying to make ends meet and even pay some salaries? You should be very happy to have functional & reliable charging infrastructure at any price now. If you are planning for frequent long distance road trips or no home/work charger with battery car, you are delusional, it is not going to work well. Peak grid power charges and equipment cost are not going to allow cheap quick charging, other than subsidized teaser prices during first years.