Ecotricity will once again change the payment structure of its Electric Highway charging network, less than a year after first introducing a fee for drivers, including charging Ecotricity utility customers for the first time.
According to an email sent to customers yesterday, the green energy supplier and EV network operator is separating the cost of energy from the cost of providing the charging service.
Drivers will be charged £0.17/kWh, which Ecotricity claims is “pretty much” the same rate paid to charge at home. In addition, they will also have to pay a £3 connection fee for all sessions. While existing Ecotricity energy customers will be exempt from this fee – “to reflect that our customers’ energy bills help us build this network” - they will have to pay the unit price.
Previously 52 free charges a year were granted. However, drivers will now have until their year anniversary of being on supply to use the remaining free charges before joining other electric vehicle drivers on the new charging model.
In the letter seen by Clean Energy News, Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: “The new model that we’ve developed will give more flexibility and typically lower charging costs across all makes and models.”
Criticisms levelled at the new charge by drivers included how the pricing structure has been put together, claiming a price per kWh would be far more effective and acceptable than a flat rate across all models, many of which charge at different speeds.
“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,” Vince added.
In a further effort to contend with this, Ecotricity has also extended the maximum length of charging sessions to 45 minutes to “offer greater flexibility to those customers who need a bit longer to charge up”.
While Ecotricity’s previous approach had been designed partly to discourage drivers with slower charging vehicles and plug-in hybrids, the extended time frame represents a move away from that rationale.
A spokesperson for Ecotricity said: “We think the extended charging time will allow more flexibility for those customers wishing to charge for a little longer than the current half hour session, whilst the pence per kWh unit rate will also help those who don’t want to spend as long at a pump.”
The latest change in pricing from Ecotricity represents the latest evolution of EV charging models in the UK, as the debate continues around time spent at the pump in comparison to unit pricing.
New market entrant Instvolt recently revealed it would also charge drivers through a combination of the unit price of the power used and the time spent at the charge point. Prior to Ecotricity’s announcement, Instavolt and charging infrastructure provider ChargePoint said the pay as you go model would allow drivers to pay for as little or as much electricity as needed, while the second charge is intended to discourage drivers from lingering in the EV charging space.