This is great news. Ecotricity were the first to provide a national network of rapid chargers for electric vehicles in the UK, making national travel along primary routes using their “Electric Highway” viable, starting almost exactly a decade ago.
But over the years, their chosen units became dated, suffered breakdowns, had little redundancy, typically with two but sometimes just one rapid charge point at a site. They had communication issues, were attacked by rodents, dropped their 24 hour support line at the worst possible time; required use of a specific RFID card and later a phone app to use. In my own experience, I’d say they failed around a third of the time and in recent times I avoided them, preferring to pay more using alternative networks for reliability.
I had another reason not to use the Electric Highway and Ecotricity. Dale Vince had been vocally against Brexit — not in itself a major issue at all, but in my mind he overstepped the mark from expressing a personal preference to almost insulting customers with whom he disagreed, so I in turn responded in the best way I could and moved energy provider.
But things have moved on now.
Ecotricity’s Electric Highway has been bought out by Gridserve, who, backed by some big names with big money, have already given a hint of their plans at their dedicated EV charging station in Braintree – a blueprint for many such similar stations across the country. And just last month, they opened up the UK’s largest motorway EV charging site at the brand new Rugby services off junction 1 of the M6, equipped with 12 brand new and reliable rapid chargers, mirroring the 12 neighbouring Tesla Superchargers.
EV drivers have had a love/hate relationship with Ecotricity, but without them, it’s tough to imagine that EVs would have been as viable an alternative to ICE vehicles as quickly. Without them, our early travels with our LEAF in 2014/2015 would have been almost impossible.
But the Electric Highway is in Gridserve’s hands now, with much better tech and much better financial backing.
And that’s definitely a cause for celebration.