Ecotricity’s New App, Pay Structure Tested – Video

AUG 7 2016 BY JAY COLE 31

Last month Ecotricity, the charging provider behind the UK’s “electric highway”, announced it was moving from a free to ‘pay-per-use’ service, and initially set a price that was non-too-popular with EV drivers (£5 For A 20-Minute boost), as it didn’t allow for full 80% charges over 1 charge cycle.

Testing Ecotricity's New App/Charge-Per-Charge System

Testing Ecotricity’s New App/Charge-Per-Charge System

Thankfully, Ecotricity reacted quickly to the backlash and adjusted the price and timing structure before the program kicked off; it now stands at £6 For A 30-Minute boost.  As expected, EV drivers still preferred the earlier “free” pricing, but realistically at some point the network had to start charging.

The new pricing and app-driven system just went live this month, and thankfully Andy Rogerson (aka Electric LEAF Man) has filed for us a first hand review of his first experience interacting with the new Ecotricity system.

The first hiccup Andy notices right out of the gate is that the app isn’t available for his Windows phone, and ‘live’ help isn’t always available.   Thankfully he has a iPad he can tether too, but the adventure only continues from there…

Special bonus:  Around the 6:00 mark a random passerby asks some questions on the charging session and gives his opinion of the pricing.  And at the 12:00 mark someone randomly has stuck a complaint letter on the Ecotricity machine (on the new pricing) while Andy was waiting on his charge to complete

Categories: Charging


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31 Comments on "Ecotricity’s New App, Pay Structure Tested – Video"

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I don’t understand why all these services don’t just except a card that you slide through I was at a vending machine the other day that excepted a card

Because they want to keep management costs down.

An app-based system eliminates the costs of the cards and card scanner.

If I’m sounding like a broken record to some who have already seen this, I apologize. But I’m seeing a lot of complaining about the price that Ecotricity is charging for a 30 minute session. After doing some research on this recently I came to realize that they are right in line with their £6.00 / $7.80 for 30 minutes pricing.

I won’t post again the different providers and their charge around the world that I compared, but the average price for a 30 minute charge comes to $8.50. So in fact Ecotricity is slightly below average at $7.80!! $8.50 is the average cost worldwide to charge for 30 minutes.

Now, having said that I realize that
probably half the people charging will only need 10-15 minutes, so Ecotricity’s 30 minute plan is truly more inefficient than a simple per minute rate, since users are actually incentivized to stay longer!
So if a 15 minute charge is all that is done, then its more expensive, and only then.

Yep, mandatory 30 min sessions suck. I can see a small session fee to plug in, buy afterwards the rate should be by the minute to encourage people to only plug in as long as needed.

I don’t think the problem is the cost the problem is how dumb they are and all ev chargers are with there payment method

What a joke just let ev drivers swipe the card and then pay for it via your online account which has you credit card details. This has been agreed by the boss of eco tricity and people who have clean white teeth and candy floss for brains. Lets not believe the crap that eco tricity give us these fast chargers have been paid by the uk tax payers and about 25 per cent paid by eco tricity. The minute they get a few extra people charging they start charging should have waited another two years before charging. Same old crap business is business and watch five years from know eco tricity will see their networks for millions paid by the uk tax payers. Way forward eco people us to create your own electricity solar panels energy storage use less energy and get the best electricity deals.

It’s fair enough that they have to charge but paying per Kwh by any card or NFC system should be how it’s done.

It should be per minute. Three different networks in Norway, which is without comparison farthest down the EV adoption road, all have the same experience. All started charging by the kWh and all now charge per minute. This gives much better alignment of network and customer incentives and is the fairest pricing model. With per kWh, you get hoggers who pay less and less as their car charges ever more slowly – and with this, reduced capacity because some idiot is taking twenty minutes to get the last two kWh when someone else could have charged ten times as much. Per minute pricing instead means the per-kWh cost increases as speed decreases, giving you more and more incentive to avoid staying connected more than required the higher your SoC.

I don’t know why others refuse to learn from our experience. Maybe they imagine Norwegians are fundamentally different in some way. But I am pretty sure they’ll go through the same process as we did and end up doing the same – charge by the minute.

How about charging the higher of kWh or per minute? That way, if the car starts trickle-charging, the minute rate would be higher and that’s what they would bill at.

EV owners would learn when their car hits 80% and then unplug.

I agree 100% With Terrawatt. Per minute is the easiest way as long as the number of fastchargers are limited. And it is not about trickle-charge. Once the SOC reaches a certain percentage the charging rate steadily drops, this drop can start as low as 50% SOC or 80% SOC depending on car and temperature. Norway still has a few chargers With pay per charge, those are almost never used, people prefer pay-per-minute, and the average charging session is between 15-20 minutes. Many times i only need 5-10 minutes of charging to get home, and then it is very expensive to pay for 30 minutes. Some operators are stuck with the old gasoline type “fill up the tank thinking”.

I agree a 10000000 percent I was in Tennessee a month ago and could not charge because I did not have there card and was not a member even thow ever were else I was at would take my money with my card

> realistically at some point the network had to start charging

Yeah. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a charging network, would it?

+1 🙂

Charge by the minute is the best! Or charge by 10 kWh increments. Make it 20% more for second 10kWh increment and 30% more for third 10kWh increment. That will get people to charge for shorter duration and allow for more vehicle access to busy stations

Agreed that by the minute is best.

10 kWh is quite a decent chunk to make into a increment tho IMO. Straight per kWh would be better than that. I understand that in Norway the average amount of time EVs charge is 15 minutes, which would be somewhere around 7-8 kWh.

I agree with Terawatt, most likely eventually Ecotricity and other network providers around the world will realize that per minute billing is the simplest solution and best pay structure.
But it may take some time until many places are at a high enough percentage of EVs to make the switch to per minute billing the optimum solution.
In other words when there finally are mature markets like Norway, then per minute billing will be more commonly accepted and implimented.

How do ecotricity customers activate the charging station? Do the have to use the app or can they activate the machine with a card?

The only option for activating a session now is with the app I understand.

Is the fixed rate 30 min sessions to discourage outlander phev drivers from charging? I understand from some posts outlander drivers were using the service quite heavily and causing quite a bit of congestion.

I can’t imagine charging my outlander PHEV and paying £6 for a 30 minute charge to get about 20 miles range, I might just as well put in a 1.2 gallons which would get me about 48 miles !

They would only have got 20 miles range and had to stand there for 30 mins for that ?

Right. Most likely Outlander drivers were probably using the fast chargers because they were free, and I understand they were an issue since there were many of them doing so. It’s amazing what people do to get something free, especially for fuel savings it seems!!! Whatever fee structure is used I believe should incentivize those who don’t need it to move on and not occupy a valuable and needed SERVICE (that is what it is mainly IMO) so that the fast chargers are open and available as much as possible for those who really need it, and those who really need it will be willing to pay for the service too. A simple per minute fee structure accomplishes this. I don’t mean a chunk of minutes like Ecotricity is doing, but a rate per single minute like is commonly done in Norway. Again, sorry for posting this again for those who have read it already, but this news blog article from Charge & Drive of Norway about why per minute billing is the best really nails it on the head. Read it if you haven’t already and want to know why a mature EV market settles on a per minute… Read more »
Here’s a chunk of it to give a taste for those who might want to read the whole thing… or simply just read part of it: Fast charging is a service offered primarily to full electric vehicles that need additional electricity fast to reach their destination in reasonable time. A plug-in hybrid vehicle, which has both a combustion engine and an electric motor, does not necessarily need additional electricity when its batteries run out; it can use its combustion engine to reach the destination. Making the fast charging service pricing minute-based aims to ensure its maximum availability, the efficient utilisation of fast chargers and of course covering the construction and maintenance costs of the charger. The charge state of the battery is the decisive factor in the recharging of an electric vehicle. The higher the battery charge, the slower it recharges. Fast charging is most effective at the beginning of charging. At this point, the car batteries are charged with maximum power. The maximum charging power varies by car manufacturer and model. The longer the battery is charged, the slower it recharges and the more expensive fast charging is when using minute-based pricing. This motivates the drivers of electric vehicles… Read more »
I disagree that people who have a PHEV shouldn’t use the fast charger network. If the PHEV has a fast charge port it should be able to use it. I would expect PHEV people stopping to buy a coffee would put their car on charge for 10-15 min if they could. They would only do this if it didn’t cost them a lot of money to do so. From a bigger picture view 20 extra miles of EV driving is worth doing. Some of the newer charging stations have multiple charging cables and share power between the vehicles connected meaning that a PHEV taking 15 kW would not stop a BEV parked next to it from charging with it just reducing the power it could take from the charging station. This kind of innovation will only take hold if we are inclusive with charging infrastructure. I think, and this is my opinion, that the problem is the business models for fast charging are restrictive. There is no problem with people fast charging a PHEV or BEV more often than they need to provided there are enough charging stations. This means that what it really comes down to how the stations… Read more »

by “use more power”, I mean use more power at home where most charging will take place and where the customer pays for the power. Not they will use more power at the charging station which, obviously, will not help ecotricity.

Right. It’s not that a PHEV owner should not use a fast charger, but via a per minute billing like in Norway they along with all other EV owners are incentivized to use it courteously and respectfully of the service availability.

Paying for sessions is dumb. What if you do a full session then realize you need a few extra minutes to be able to make your journey. Yep. You have to pay for an entire new session only to use 1/6 of it.

I have just watch the video. I actually think that was the best assessment that I have seen of the new model around the ecotricity network. I particularly like that it didn’t get into the silly pricing debate and focused on the implementation of the new business model. IMO, it is pretty bloody stupid what they are doing. I can understand making people who aren’t ecotricity customers pay, I can understand making that payment process a bit long winded and expensive to get people to switch to ecotricity for their electricity but a dodgy app and an even more dodgy T&C’s is just dumb. This really stinks of incompetence, did they not test their app? why hide the T&C’s? Why not just say “if you want to use this service on a pay per charge basis you must agree to receive promotional offers from our carefully screened partners”. Its 2016 for God sake! we’ve had the internet for 20 years did they really think they’d get away with that? they’ll be lucky if they don’t have their monopoly status removed in some way. I really don’t know about how the legalities of what they are doing work but there will… Read more »

I would love to hear from an Ecotricity customer who uses the charging network. Is the user experience of the app much better than in the video?

I cling to the hope that Ecotricity are looking after their customers better than the man on the street who is just using the network on an ad hoc basis.

We switched our household electricity over to ecotricity and it took effect Friday. Charged our Leaf for the first time using their ‘pumps’ today. Used three different locations on a mini road trip. The App worked perfectly each time. This was a great first experience with their chargers / new app. Not sure why leafman had so many issues… I used an iPhone 4S. Met a guy at one of the Chargers who also switched his household electric over to ecotricity the same day I did (it’s definatley pulling in new business to Ecotricity Energy). He had not had any issues with the app either.

You need to charge by KW and not by time. In different tempetures I sometimes get a real good charge on a warm day, but if it’s a cold day my percentage charge is a bit longer. Also, £4.00 for half hour charge would be better. £6.00 a charge puts it on the same level as fuel cars. By doing that, you might as well go back to your fuel car were you can get a 400 mile rage for the same price. Also, people out there with fuel cars can’t make fuel at home, but us EV drivers can charge up at home for less than £3.00 for a full charge. Ecotricity should know this, so I say charge up from home if you are charging £6.00 for 30 minutes, and go on to Plugshare option if it’s a longer journey.

Crazy that all these EV charging networks expect customers to have a separate usage card for each. They should all be set up to just swipe a regular credit card to use them.

Or better yet, they should be set up like the S. Korean “EV-Line” system, which uses a “smart” portable EVSE that the driver carries in the car, chargers with a wifi connection so the smart EVSE can enable charging without using a credit card reader, and a monthly subscription service for billing.