Ecotricity announced a plan to charge £5 for a 20-minute electric car charge last week, but already it has decided to increase the price.
Speaking in a Radio 4 interview, Ecotricity owner Dale Vince said the company would now charge £6 for 30 minutes, which makes the price per minute cheaper (20p per minute instead of 25p per minute) but increases the overall cost.
When asked if the fee would put people off electric cars, an Ecotricity spokesperson avoided giving a yes or no answer but said the new price would offer customers “fair use and fair access” to its electric pumps and that it is “a fair price to pay”.
On how it arrived at the fee, the spokesperson explained: “We investigated the price that other electric car networks were charging, the equivalent costs of refuelling petrol and diesel cars at motorway services, the need to ensure users don’t monopolise a charger while other motorists are waiting, how frequently the average customer uses the Electric Highway and the need for revenue that will ensure we can maintain and expand a network that has been free for five years.”
“On balance we came to the conclusion that £6 for a 30min charge was a fair price to pay,” he added.
Rival provider Chargemaster introduced a £7.85-a-month tariff in 2014 that gives its customers unlimited access to its standard charging network (around 80 per cent of its 4,000 chargers), while fast-charger use costs 9p per kWh, which makes a 30-minute charge around £2.
Electric car owners will need to use an updated Electric Highways app, available on iOS and Android, to pay for a charge. Ecotricity expects all chargers will accept payments by the 5th of August, 2016.
Topping up an electric car at an Ecotricity ‘pump’ was previously free and the company revealed it provided more than 30 million miles of free motoring worth £2.5 million since 2011. The introduction of the fee is designed to help ‘maintain and grow the network’.
Ecotricity’s network is predominantly of the fast-charge variety – 276 out of a total of 296 chargers – and the non-fast chargers will remain free to use.
Those who drive a hybrid such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV will be worst affected, given that its electric-only range is around 32 miles and £6 for the privilege of topping that up makes it considerably pricier to run – around the same as a diesel, in fact.
Meanwhile an all-electric Nissan Leaf recharges about 100 miles in 30 minutes, which still makes the £6 fee looks unnecessarily expensive – and that’s ignoring the cost of a service station coffee and a snack while you wait.
It seems like a strange move to hit eco cars with a charging fee, as putting motorists off from taking the plunge could in turn reduce the potential number of motorists using Ecotricity’s network in the long run.
Too soon, then, to hike up the cost of electric car motoring when owning one is still more inconvenient and more expensive than a petrol or diesel? No doubt sales figures later in the year will give us some sort of answer.