Ecotricity blames £6 charge on Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs ‘clogging up’ network

Ecotricity blames £6 charge on Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs ‘clogging up’ network

A £6 fee for a 30-minute rapid charge at motorway service stations across the UK is being rolled out from today – with the firm responsible pointing the figure at the success of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Mitsubishi sold 11,786 Outlander PHEVs in the UK last year, making it the country’s best-selling plug-in vehicle. It works by running on electric-power when it’s charged, with an official range of up to 32 miles. When its runs out of battery, or when extra power is required, the petrol engine kicks in.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2016): long-term review

Ecotricity hits EV drivers with £5 fee for 20 minute charge

Opinion: Ecotricity’s £6 charging fee could be a huge blow for electric cars

Speaking to Motoring Research, Ecotricity spokesperson Max Boon said: “The vast majority of complaints we receive are about PHEVs clogging up chargers. We want to encourage electric car use and if we can do that by discouraging plug-in hybrids from using our network, that’s a good thing.”

Interviewed for Radio 4’s You and Yours programme earlier today, Ecotricity’s owner Dale Vince defended his company’s decision to charge £6 for a 30 minute charge (a pound more than when it was announced on Friday) – and pointed the finger at drivers of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

He said: “We’ve changed our plan over the weekend following feedback from our drivers. It’s now going to be a 30 minute charging session for £6. So that’s a 50% increase in time and a 20% increase in cost. We’ve done this to reflect that most EV drivers have said that they need 30 minutes to get the ideal 80% battery charge.”

Responding to a question from a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV owner, Vince added: “[It] is not designed to be used on electric power for long journeys. It’s designed for running around town on its very small electric battery, filling up at home or at your destination over a period of several hours.

“It’s an inappropriate use of a fast charger at motorway services.”

Motoring Research is currently running a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on long-term test and recently questioned the etiquette around using public electric car charging points when other users might need them more urgently.

Ecotricity: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is ‘a compromised car’

After Radio 4 presenter Shari Vahl pointed out that not all plug-in hybrid cars sold are Mitsubishi Outlanders, Vince commented: “It is only the Mitsubishi that can plug into a fast charger – all of the others just plug into a type-two or three-pin socket over a period of several hours.

“The [Mitsubishi Outlander] hybrid is essentially a compromised car. It’s an electric vehicle with a very small battery and a petrol engine so that you have the back-up of the petrol engine for long journeys.

“It’s designed to use its petrol engine for long journeys. It takes half an hour to charge on a fast charger, and then you can travel 20 to 25 miles, and then you have to stop for another half an hour. It’s just not practical.

“The point of a hybrid is that they don’t have to charge. They have a petrol engine for a long journey, that’s the whole point of them. It’s just been an anomalous use of our network and our fast charge technology… it’s only happened within the last 12 months.”

Defending the charges, Ecotricity points out that its home energy customers will continue to be able to use the motorway charge points at no extra cost. The renewable energy firm generates 100% of its power from renewable sources, and has so far powered 30 million miles using electricity for no cost.

Speaking to Motoring Research, Boon added: “This hasn’t been an overnight decision. We’ve known since we launched that we would have to start charging one day.”

Mitsubishi: Ecotricity’s announcement is a ‘retrograde step’

Mitsubishi has branded Ecotricity’s comments a ‘retrograde step’ for the electric car industry.

A spokesperson told Motoring Research: “We don’t understand why the only supplier of charging points in the UK’s motorway services would want to deter the drivers of the UK’s most popular zero emission capable vehicle from charging.

“For an organisation whose vision is of a ‘Green Great Britain’, the decision of imposing a £6 per charge fee hampers the promotion of electric miles.

“In a growing sector, with a diversity of pure-electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles, we believe that consumers should have a choice. A reasonable nationwide strategy would be to have the same charging facilities to match everyone’s requirements.

“The Outlander PHEV is the first 4WD plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and offers a widespread consumer base uncompromised access to ultra-low emission motoring. Being able to cover the majority of journeys under electric power whilst having the security of a petrol engine as back up for longer trips is a key factor in its success.

“This announcement is more than disappointing – it seems to be a retrograde step not just for us but for the whole industry.”

Web editor at Drives a 1983 Austin Metro. Tweet me @MR_AndrewBrady.

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  • Peter Kelly

    The Outlander is certainly a compromised car. It was designed solely to get around emission laws and taxation.

    Simply looking at basic physics demontrates why it is a nonsense: you cannot move extra weight at no penalty. Drive with electricity and you move a petrol engine and fuel for no gain, then the reverse is the case when you drive on petrol, moving the electric powertrain and battery.

    I saw a comment once, relating to the economy claim of 148mpg, that went something like, “You are 148 miles from your wedding in your Outlander and you only have 1 gallon in the tank. Confident of making it?. Thought not.” My sentiments entirely.

  • TDIPower

    They do have a very valid point and what I’ve been saying for a while, the BEV owner absolutely needs the network and can’t continue while the Plug in owner with their tiny batteries can continue on the engine.

    PHEV’s have very small batteries and the worst of all is they can’t even charge at the full 45-50 Kw these DC chargers are capable of. The Plug in owner will have to visit DC chargers a lot more frequently especially when owners figure out how good and cheap it is to drive electric.

    I’m sure the plug in owner can be charged a fee via their access card.

  • Iain Ansell

    oh dear, electric car snobbery…tut tut…. lets blame phevs (don’t forget there are other phevs….ampera, prius plug-in, etc….) rather than ecotricity’s lack of foresight in ensuring adequete capacity…what’ll happen when the cheap tesla and GM/vauxhall bolt hits these shores? will ecotricity put a charge on them then because cheap electric cars will clog up the charge points? they would do better to increase capacity by talking to manafacturers of the phevs to assist with some investment…

  • Myk

    As A 2014 24KWh 84 mile range (on a good day!) Nissan Leaf owner that in the last year has done 161 rapid charges at the Ecotricity chargers, I have only had to wait twice. Neither of those were for PHEV’s but for fossil powered cars that shouldn’t have even been there.

    With regard to the point about the new Chevy Bolt and the Tesla, both of these have at least a 200 mile range, and Tesla have their own much faster superchargers.
    In my line of work, I only drive an average of 100 miles a day, so my next car, a Tesla Model S, will probably never see a rapid charger, as I can easily charge it at home.

    Now that Ecotricity have started charging £6 for 30 minutes, the PHEV’s won’t use the rapids any more, after all, why pay more for electric than the petrol would work out for the same distance and have to wait 30 minutes when you can chuck some petrol in and be on your way in a couple of minutes.

  • Nigel Harris

    Actually, it’s not a nonsense. When driving on electricity, the penalty of extra weight is very much reduced by the presence of regenerative braking. Unlike an ICE vehicle, where extra weight means extra energy to accelerate (or go up hill) which is lost forever, in a PHEV, much of the energy put into accelerating the extra weight of the car can be recovered by regenerative braking. That’s why hybrid vehicles achieve better mileage than their non-hybrid (but lighter) equivalents.

  • Nigel Harris

    Good to hear you’ve never had to wait for a PHEV. I am an Outlander PHEV driver and I have used Ecotricity’s free motorway chargers probably about 10 times, but only when I needed a break or a snack or a coffee anyway. It would have been foolish not enjoy a prime parking spot and 20 miles or so of free motoring.

    Nine out of ten times, there were no other vehicles in the Ecotricity charging bays. Once, a Tesla Model S rolled up while I was there and plugged in next door. I never left our car unattended while I was there, as I would have been mortified if I had denied charging to someone who really needed it. Nothing would have pleased me more, to be honest, than to have had to relinquish my parking bay to a BEV driver, but it never happened.

    Now, of course, there’s no way I’ll be plugging in and paying £6. We’ll be back to using National Trust properties as our rest stops (they don’t have electric car charging, but they’re usually a lot more pleasant than motorway service stations if you need a break).

  • Peter Kelly

    I think you are under a misapprehension regarding regeneration. Certainly it is better than not having it, but it’s far, far from getting most of your energy back.

    As to hybrid achieving better economy, I’ve yet to see solid, consistent data that proves it. Much of the real world examples seem to suggest there’s little difference.

  • Nigel Harris

    I have absolutely no doubt about it. The extra energy required to carry the weight of a battery and electric motors is minimal compared to the astonishing amount of energy that vehicles without regenerative braking waste all the time.

    I have been amazed to discover, for example, that there are several downhill stretches of UK motorway that are sufficiently steep that the battery receives charge, even when driving at a steady speed of over 70 mph.

  • Rob Kay

    Regenerative braking works well at slow speeds, on country or urban roads, but not at steady speeds of 70 mph on motorways, where air resistance is a far more important user of energy than friction, and regeneration is minimal. As the electric highway is almost all motorways, most pure EV drivers need to stop every 50 to 70 miles to recharge for twenty or thirty minutes.
    I have also never been blocked by an Outlander, in several thousand miles of Leaf driving across the length and breadth of Britain, but it is becoming a problem in congested areas such as around the Birmingham – London area.
    That said, the imposition of punitive levels of charging by Ecotricity makes it cheaper for me to drive my ancient diesel than to use my 2016 Leaf on longer trips, and that is a shame. £1 for 10 minutes is fair, but a flat £5 for 30 minutes charging the battery is a heavy price to pay for an extra 50 miles of motoring.

  • 1250

    Once again you have the haves and have knot,s , over who should have preferance at a charger !!!,it look like life never change,s ,and the bev driver ,has to bight the bullet once again !!!!

  • Mark Perrin

    Getting the PHEV off the network was a good idea but its now come at the cost of also getting the battery electric vehicles off the network too. Expensive monopolising network in UK makes EV less viable compared to an ice vehicle for commutes outside the vehicles range. EV still makes for a good local car but nothing more after this. Ecotricity killed the electric car in the UK when they pulled the plug on its life support.

  • The thing is all those other PHEVs you mentioned cannot be plugged into the DC rapid chargers that Ecotricity are now charging for – which makes sense, you charge over night and commute on electric but a long trip is on petrol.

    Because of the small size of the battery in the Outlander it cannot utilise the full capacity of the rapid charger anyway so why the Chademo connector was actually fitted to the car is a bit mysterious…

    Considering that the Outlanders are largely/only sold to provide a low BIK SUV I imagine having the chademo connector was a handy selling point to say you can park in dedicated spots at service stations “for free”.

  • Iain Ansell

    outlanders can be rapid charged…takes 30 minutes to rapid charge an outlander…

    My point is, ecotricity are trying to place the blame of not having enough charging points onto phevs….. who will they blame once the £25k tesla, the opel/vauxhall bolt and other start to saturate the limited charging points? the queue will only get longer if they don’t invest more..

  • Sorry if I wasn’t clear, I was saying that the other PHEVs cannot be rapid charged, only the Outlander can be, and it is inappropriate that it can be, in that “30mins” it can take on comparatively little energy than with a BEV e.g. Leaf/Zoe etc.

    The other PHEVs can’t be which is in my opinion correct because it should be used on petrol when on a long trip, that is its purpose.

    Regarding the longer range Teslas and Bolts arrival, the longer range will mean that they need to use the rapid charging network less and less! If a Leaf needs to charge multiple times to make a 180mi trip for example, a Bolt may not need to stop at all, and can charge at its destination.