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Resolved - Ecotricity suing Tesla in the UK

Discussion in 'News' started by Electric700, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. Electric700

    Electric700 Member

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  2. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

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    I don't get it. Ecotricity sells green energy to home owners and businesses. Then they have 'free' chargers for owners of EV's. This is a blurb on their website:

    Our Electric Highway enables electric vehicle owners to travel the length and breadth of the country.

    The first and biggest charging network in Britain, we’ll soon have electricity pumps at every motorway services – and beyond.

    The network is free to use – just sign up for one of our swipe cards and you’re ready to begin unrestricted, zero emission driving.


    I don't get what the deal is here. Why can't these roadside rest stops have BOTH? Ecotricity isn't offering Supercharging that I can see, and both offer 'FREE' charging, so not sure why they consider themselves a competitor to Tesla. When it's a matter of 'space', then why not cooperate and offer Ecotricity and Tesla Supercharging at 'alternate' rest stops? What is wrong with people? Or did/does Ecotricity have something to hide concerning that 'confidential' information?
     
  3. Fanatic

    Fanatic Member

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    #3 Fanatic, Mar 26, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2015
    Because Ecotricity will plan to charge ppl later on maybe? want to be the biggest and best when they do?. Agree with you though, why go to court..
     
  4. widodh

    widodh Model S R231 EU

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    Available power and space at those locations is a problem.
     
  5. Brunel

    Brunel Member

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    Power supply is a slight problem and some of the services are forcing Ecotricity to turn off charge points temporarily, which some are thinking is due to power supply issues. This seems to be the case with a local one to me near Portishead.

    I see the Ecotricity and Tesla fall-out as an ego and principles battle - I am a customer of both so have no preference - but it sounds like someone from Tesla accidentally sent an email to Ecotricity, with whom they already had NDA agreements, stating that they wanted to smash Ecotricity's exclusive 10 year agreements with the services landholder so that Tesla can deal direct with the landholder and not Ecotricity.

    Basically everyone in the UK wants them to just sort it out ASAP. Tesla can pay Ecotricity for the power and get a load of spaces, freeing up the Ecotricity "pumps" for Leafs etc rather than Tesla CHAdeMO adapters.
     
  6. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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  7. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Active Member

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    Thanks for that link.

    After reading the article, I'm still not sure of Ecotricity's complaint. They are claiming Tesla offered at least one motorway operator financial inducement to break contract with Ecotricity. Tesla offers free equipment all the time as an incentive...and if the motorway has to break contract with Ecotricity to install this equipment...that's not exactly the same thing as Tesla asking them to break contract... Nor would this "financial inducement" really seem to be an issue.

    Maybe I'm missing something.

    Also, if they gained access to Musk's emails, which seems to have been offered without contest, I would assume that Tesla is pretty confident that no wrongdoing occurred.
     
  8. Objective1

    Objective1 Member

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    And how could where Ecotricity had installations be a secret? What did the NDA cover?
     
  9. rolosrevenge

    rolosrevenge Dr. EVS

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    Ecotricity has a pride problem. Remember the whole "Wind Powered Car" that their founder had built which was 5 times the price with worse performance than the Roadster? He was so sure that there'd be spin offs. He's just mad because his much hyped EV was a dud and Tesla was a success.
     
  10. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    Moral of this story: always double-check the recipient list on your emails.
    Corollary: "Reply All" is almost always the wrong button to push.
     
  11. TNEVol

    TNEVol Member

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    I suspect that this may be based on an allegation that Tesla encouraged someone (landowners?) to breach their contract with Ecotricity. In most US states this may be intentional interference with contract rights and is a tort. I don't know about UK. Being a Tesla advocate I hope there is nothing to this.
     
  12. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

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    Um...add solar?

    And if it's a space issue, alternate locations. Then everyone wins, no?
     
  13. RobStark

    RobStark Active Member

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    Evidently, Ecotricity has some choice real estate on key motorways. Like rest stops.
     
  14. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

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    Well, *we* don't need SuperChargers at every rest stop. And the UK isn't that big of a country. There has to be something deeper going on. Perhaps once they are all set up, Ecotricity is planning on charging EV drivers as suggested by someone already.
     
  15. stopcrazypp

    stopcrazypp Well-Known Member

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    Well according to the wiki page, in both countries, there has to be an actual act of interference and the contract must be successfully breached in order for such charges to stand. However, from what I see so far, there is no evidence of such a breach, and also Ecotricity is so far only claiming that Tesla *intended* to interfere with their contract, not that Tesla did attempt to do so (although Ecotricity obviously wants to find that there was such an act committed).

    There's also another claim that Tesla violated their NDA by using the information to find the optimal station locations and then breaking off from Ecotricity.
     
  16. smac

    smac Active Member

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    They are definitely planning on charging customers in future. This has been clear from day one, and Ecotricity are publicly open about it.

    The real problem here is Ecotricity has signed exclusivity contracts with the Motorway Service Areas. These are absolutely prime locations for Supercharging in the context of enabling long range travel.

    The Electrical grid runs alongside the motorways and they are mandated by law to be open 24x7 and provide food and restroom facilities. They also have the benefit of being places you don't want to stop at for any longer than needed.

    Dale Vince has in this case been very shrewd securing such a deal, and Tesla were playing from a very weak hand at the negotiating table. Elon's complaints about "outrageous demands" may very well be true given the clash of egos, but ultimately what is outrageous given this backdrop.


    Of course none of this is helping us UK drivers out. Tesla are scraping around for sites which meet their own 24x7 access, restrooms, and facilities requirements which aren't exhorbitantly expensive to run electrical supply to. They can't just build there own mini-version of a service centre due to legislation and planning restrictions, so at the moment they are choosing to place Superchargers in small car parks near hotels with 24x7 facilities. These so far seem to be supply constrained to 2 bay sites, which will creak under the strain as more cars hit the UK.

    There are rollout problems too. Even suitable hotel sites are in fairly short supply, we have seen a definite lacking in certain areas of the country, where MSA's are pretty much the only option, leading to a heavy clustering of SpCs in some regions, and void in others. Tesla have been in talks with supermarket chains, but the big problem with those is they are generally not as easily accessible, and they will end up supporting the penny-pinching owners as the charge time nearly matches a weekly shopping time, so there is no inconvenience to using them.

    With Ecotricity the gatekeeper to the locations, it would appear Tesla's fat fingered email, showed Tesla were trying to buy off the lease agreements between Ecotricity and the motorway service operators, probably figuring this would be cheaper than paying Dale the price he demanded for allowing Tesla to share the sites, or trying to upgrade sub-optimal locations infrastructure to support Supercharging.

    Now the crux of this particular lawsuit, i.e. breach of NDA, and I suspect specifically access to the key stakeholders at the Motorway Service Operators, may or may not go Tesla's way (I suspect Tesla may lose if pressed to gamble on it). However, I suspect in reality, it is a more long term strategy for Ecotricity to ring fence and protect their lease agreements with the motorway service operators. Given the current legal backdrop, I very much doubt any Motorway Service Operator would now consider breaking a lease agreement with Ecotricity, as it would be a pretty open and shut case.

    Further muddying the waters is now UK Government are wanting to get in on the rapid charging scene, and I suspect they will gladly pay Ecotricity's fee for entry, after all it's "Someone else's money" :rolleyes:
     
  17. Brunel

    Brunel Member

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    I probably have a similar interpretation as smac.

    Ecotricity may well have a monopoly, but it is not for Tesla to be judge and jury. Perhaps they should be rewarded for their entrepreneurship, initiative and first to market approach...as long as they are not negatively distorting the market.

    I have done a bit of work on Competition Law recently and focusing on exclusivity agreements, which tend to need case by case review. The key thing is that such arrangements have to impede the market (barriers to entry, consumers losing out etc) to be ruled against (under European law).

    It seems that Ecotricity and Tesla were working collaboratively and Ecotricity were fine with Tesla sitting next to the dodgy Nissan units. If Tesla did not like any caveats, whether they be financial or branding or any other items then let the authorities decide.

    Whilst Ecotricity do intend to charge for charging, no-one knows how. I strongly suspect they would keep it free for their customers, because whilst I can have free charging as a customer my electric bill is much higher at home with just a Leaf. When I have the Tesla it will be a magnitude of difference. Dale Vince wants his customers to have Teslas, whether they have free charging at SCs or his points. If I pull off a motorway and 2 SC points are full but I can jump onto an Ecotricity pump, I will...especially if free because I am an Ecotricity customer.

    Ecotricity are a minnow compared to Tesla and all the other utility suppliers and they have the right zero carbon ethos. That said, I hope Dale Vince's ego does not get in the way of quick resolution (too late?). I really like his model and siding with EVs early on is very shrewd - commercially if he gives too much ground his business will get hugely affected and put at risk his renewable energy plans. I think they have less than 100k utility customers (small fry) - if all of those were to be EV users then per household revenue would be huge and that revenue will fund new windfarms and solar parks...Ecotricity is not set up to pay shareholders dividends etc.
     
  18. Krugerrand

    Krugerrand Active Member

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    Again, the energy problem is solved with Solar. But okay, I'm seeing what's going on here. We'll wait and see what Tesla does, but I wouldn't count them out regardless of how much of a turd Ecotricity wants to be. They aren't any bigger an obstacle than the Automobile Dealers Association in the United States.
     
  19. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    Was Ecotricity the company that was trying to push Kevin Sharp's outfit around?

    If so, the U.K. gov't would be wise not to cede too much influence (over generic charge facilities) to a single carrier...
     
  20. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    No, I believe that was some group representing manufacturers who are disappointed that someone's showing up their overpriced (and sadly often poor quality) EVSEs. Never mind that often those other EVSEs use exactly the same parts.
     

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