Ecotricity provides the worst electric charging network in Britain, says study

Surprise, surprise, Tesla came out top

ECOTRICITY’S Electric Highway charging network, found at motorway service stations across the UK, has been ranked bottom in a list of 10 electric vehicle (EV) charging services in the country.

The Driver Power survey by Auto Express involved 809 EV owners. Ecotricity charging points were placed 10th out of 10 in all four categories: charging cost, charging speed, ease of use and reliability.

Ecotricity has more than 300 charging stations around the country, and charges 30p per kWh (units of energy). However, if you become an Ecotricity Green energy customer, this halves to 15p.

A spokesperson for Ecotricity disputed the legitimacy of the rankings: “The survey that Auto Express have published has two big problems – the first being the number of electric vehicle owners polled. Just 809 people took part in their EV survey, and that’s well below the threshold to make this statistically robust or meaningful.

“Secondly – the Electric Highway is the most used charging infrastructure in the country by some way – making it the only truly national network. Without adjustments in the data to reflect the volume of use, the conclusions drawn are also meaningless. We would welcome a properly conducted survey.”

The claim that Electric Highway is the most used network in the country has been disputed.

The size and scope of the Ecotricity network makes it a key part of the UK’s effort to shift drivers to electric cars. Ecotricity’s “Electric Highway” chargers are available in almost every motorway service station in the UK, but their satisfaction amongst customers, according to the Auto Express survey, lies at just 64.05%.

The government is to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 at the latest (potentially 2032, subject to consultation), so making sure the charging network is robust and allows electric cars to become a viable alternative is a priority.

Tesla, the American electric car market noted for disrupting the automotive market status quo, formerly partnered with Ecotricity but that ended in dramatic fashion with a war of words between Elon Musk and Dale Vince, the companies’ founders and CEOs. Tesla has since managed to resume building its own high-speed bespoke charging network within services, enabling its customers to make long-distance journeys via motorway.

Vince will no doubt be wincing at Tesla’s success, not just in rapid expansion of its charging network but also its perceived quality. Coming first in all four categories, the American firm’s Superchargers topped the overall poll with a 92.94% satisfaction level. That’s great news for Tesla fans, but Tesla Superchargers are not compatible with EVs from other manufacturers, making them useless to most EV drivers.

Dale Vince v Elon Musk: electric car tsars at war over motorway charging stations

The research will amplify the voices of those calling for the government to invest more heavily in nationwide charging points. In the Budget announced at the beginning of March (which, given the Covid-19 crisis that has gripped the world since, feels like a decade ago), Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that he wanted to “invest in ideas”, announcing £500m would be made available to fund charging hubs around the country. The aim was to make sure British EV drivers are never more than 30 miles away from a public charger.

This would be more than satisfactory for almost any pure-electric car currently on sale. Tesla’s models are all capable of going more than 300 miles between charges. The BMW i4, which was set to arrive this year (but may be delayed, for obvious reasons), will have a 373 mile WLTP range, while the more affordable Kia eNiro and Hyundai Kona Electric have ranges of around 280 miles. The upcoming Tesla Roadster purports to be able to 620 miles.

Scotland’s government-run charging points came third in the list, ranking second for charging costs. It’s worth noting that Tesla, who came first for cost, offers free supercharging to many of its customers, bringing the average price of refuelling at a Supercharger down, though its cars are among the more expensive offerings. For most EV drivers, ChargePlace Scotland is the cheapest charging option (though only if you’re already in Scotland, obviously).

New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that nearly 20% of all vehicles bought last year were either pure-electric or plug-in hybrids. However, zero-emission cars still only make up 2.2% of the cars on Britain’s roads. CO2 emissions from the UK’s cars are the lowest on record, despite there being more cars on the roads than ever before.

In March, sales of pure-electric cars went up by 197.4% compared with the same month last year, despite new car sales as a whole falling 44.4%, due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as steadily declining interest in petrol and diesel models.

The fall in sales is expected to drop even further when the April stats are released — Italy, which is thought to be approximately two weeks ahead of the UK in Covid-19 terms, saw its sales fall by 85% in March, and its lockdown didn’t begin until the second week of the month.

Auto Express Best Electric Chargepoint Providers 2020

Top providers Costs Speed Ease of use Reliability
1 Tesla (92.92%) 1st 1st 1st 1st
2 Instavolt (85.11%) 9th 2nd 2nd 2nd
3 ChargePlace Scotland (81.36%) 2nd 4th 3rd 8th
4 Shell Recharge (79.44%) 7th 3rd 4th 3rd
5 Pod Point (79.24%) 3rd 8th 6th 5th
6 Polar (79.14%) 4th 6th 5th 6th
7 Engenie (78.65%) 5th 7th 7th 4th
8 GeniePoint (76.93%) 8th 5th 8th 7th
9 Charge Your Car (76.23%) 6th 9th 9th 9th
10 Ecotricity (64.05%) 10th 10th 10th 10th

For the full details, click here to visit Auto Express.

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