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I had the chance to go to the RCN launch this week. The turnout wasn't stellar, but there were a few different cars there:

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Including the completely mental i8

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To the more pedestrian e-Golf

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But it was soon down to business. We got an update from Olivier Paturet, basically Nissan are making the Leaf in the UK and isn't that good, and the ENV200 and that's also good. But, he did say how unusual and good it was to be working alongside BMW, VW and Renault on this project.
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We then heard from David Blackmore from Welcome Break, about their commitment and enthusiasm for EVs, they had seen 3 of the 4 rapids in use at Corley that morning, completely unrelated to the launch which is great.

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There were then two speakers from OLEV, but they didn't say much of substance.

Next up was Simon Crowfoot from Ecotricity, with some interesting numbers

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By the end of 2012, the electric highway had delivered 8,500kwh, from their perspective, nothing. Year to date in August they had delivered 89mwh, across 10,000 separate charging events, and have over 5,900 card holders. They're expecting to deliver between 1-1.5 million miles of electricity this year on the electric highway.
What was also interesting is that it sounds as though RCN knew where they wanted these posts sited, and handed over the cash to ecotricity to make it happen, so they will be ecotricity branded, DBT units, accessed with ecotricity RFID etc, they are just like any other charger in the ecotricity network. Ecotricity were ultimately going to put units at these sites anyway, so why not take the cash?


We had some applause and some bubbly, and then some pictures of the cars using the charge points for the very first time (honest).

I shamelessly cornered Simon and asked a few questions.

RCN says no fees until January 2016, what about ecotricity?

They will charge fees when it makes sense to do so, at the moment the capital expenditure is so massive compared to the cost of delivering the electricity it's not important. The suggestion is that charging will be free beyond January 2016. My opinion is that the cynical "it's a landgrab for commerical gain" folks are dead wrong, ecotricity are geninely doing this because it's the right thing to do. Yes, it's costing/losing them loads of money. Yes, they're fine with that.

Do ecotricity have to pay for the real estate at the services?
The factual response here is that some landlords are happy for equipment to be installed without monetary compensation, others demand it. My opinion here (only my opinion!) is this tells us a lot about the Tesla deate. If ecotricity are paying for (say) 4 bays at a particular services, and Tesla wanted to use all 4 bays for superchargers with no other hard ware in that bay, well, I can see some friction.

Are ecotricity able to expand the supplies at sites to meet the future demands of a more deeply penetrated EV fleet? My suggested scenario was 30 rapids at a services with 200kw of power each. His answer was "we'll have to", which I think is fantastic. There was a brief breakout discussion of storage and load levelling (the energy being delivered is not a problem but the power is) but as and when they need to make upgrades to site supplies, they will. The immediate focus is on getting units doubled up, and new sites on motorways and A roads. The plan is all motorway services by the end of the year.

Can the existing units be set up to share loads to use both connectors at once?
Yes, they can, but it's not going to happen, because the sharing is a "dumb" 50:50 split.

Are the units really getting hogged by Teslas and BYD taxis?
The data says no, AC sessions are not that common, and don't last that long. Occasionally you may have to wait, at least until all the rapids are doubled up. Simons solution? More rapids. An etiquette communication is coming, but these units are for everyone, first come first served.

There was also some interesting info about how rapidly changing the standards are, the e-up works fine on CCS but the e-Golf is not quite to spec, even though the prototype that came over here for testing worked fine... Seems it's all fun and games for the OEMS :)

So that was it really!
 

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Good report. Interesting to hear that fees on the Ecotricity charger network may not be implemented till at least Jan 2016 and that they are at least thinking of future power needs.
 

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Excellent work!

Thanks very much for posting this. It's great to have some information on future plans.
 

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Also the RCN printed literature handed out stated in writing no charges for theTEN-T rapids to the end of 2015 too:)

Simon also said about the electric highway that he would not try charging for something that he recognised was not yet working as intended :).

You could not help but see that Simon genuinely wants this project to succeed and run well for all us users had you been there. All very encouraging really. I have video recorded some of his speech on my phone so could post when copied to laptop soon.

I also learned at Cenex today that Nissan are part owners of DBT, the Ecotricity rapid manufacturers, not tried to find out how big a stake or for how long yet but it does explain a lot. I wasn't aware of that.

Reliability is improving however and the new ones at Corley and elsewhere have a different cover and fan design but functionally they are the same to use.
 

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Great report, well done and thanks - wish I had been there too.
Your report got me wondering just how much data there is out there about usage, vehicles, charge time etc. I'd love to either: have the time to do the analysis, or to read stuff from someone who had done it to understand more about EV take up, usage, driver behaviour, location and type of charger etc.
 
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No charging next year either? Good! Actually, not good. Will drive our Leaf more. Will exceed mileage cap on PCP.....
I have the same problem with my battery lease too. Had to take a holiday in august to give the car a rest!
 
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That is good news. I don't even have my Leaf yet but we've already been discussing how much we would be happy to pay for charging on our longer journeys should this be introduced. For us it's been about keeping the cost of the Leaf below my current car, otherwise we can't justify a brand new car. Of course the tax demand for the Subaru arriving this morning at 拢500 has helped ;)
 

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That is good news. I don't even have my Leaf yet but we've already been discussing how much we would be happy to pay for charging on our longer journeys should this be introduced. For us it's been about keeping the cost of the Leaf below my current car, otherwise we can't justify a brand new car. Of course the tax demand for the Subaru arriving this morning at 拢500 has helped ;)
:eek: I bet!

Something I forgot to add, Simon also is aware that drivers want to be charged per kWh and not time connected etc. he didn't say for sure that's what they'll do, but at least they know it's what we want :)
 
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