Ecotricity to end free EV charging across the UK

It'll now cost £5 for 20 minutes of fast charging.

Miles Willis via Getty Images

Since 2011, UK green energy supplier Ecotricity has operated electric vehicle charging points for thousands of EV owners across the UK, completely free of charge. Running from Land's End to John O'Groats and offering connectivity at nearly every major service station in the UK, the Electric Highway has contributed 30 million miles and £2.5 million worth of free travel. In December 2015, Ecotricity warned that free usage would come to an end, but this week the company began the switch to paid charging. It costs £5 for a 20-minute rapid charge, while existing domestic energy customers can continue using its points for free.

Ecotricity says 40,000 cardholders will need to download a new mobile app designed to make payments. The same app provides a "live feed' of the Electric Highway, directing EV owners to their nearest pump. Because the company has to manually update the hundreds of charging points, it expects to complete the switch by August 5th, which may mean that some chargers offer free charging for longer than others.

With Tesla set to charge customers extra for access to its Supercharger network when the affordable Model 3 launches, Ecotricity is moving early to ensure its charging points aren't misused. The two companies have a troubled history, of course, after it was revealed that Tesla and Ecotricity were once due to become partners on a UK-wide charging network but things went sour and it ultimately ended up with them settling their differences in court.

When the company begun installing points five years ago, it knew that in order to incentivise Britons to switch to an electric vehicle, it would need to build an infrastructure that could serve them. Now EVs are a viable choice, you could say its work is done. Ecotricity says the money generated from the chargers will enable it to invest in more charging points and better service the ones it has already installed.