Ecotricity sells off motorway EV charging network to Gridserve

New Electric Highway owner announces major upgrade plan to meet growing demand

Ecotricity, the firm which holds the monopoly on motorway charging for electric cars has sold the network to Gridserve.

Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said the sale would put the Electric Highway network in the hands of owners who have the funding and commitment to meet the growing demand.

Gridserve, which opened the UK’s first dedicated EV service station earlier this year, already held a 25 per cent stake in the Electric Highway but will now take full control of the network. It has said that it will upgrade every charger on the network to include the “latest advances” including contactless payment.

Gridserve has said it will upgrade the whole Electric Highway network

Electric Highway was launched in 2011 to provide EV charging stations along the UK’s motorway network and had an exclusive deal with the country’s three main service station operators. While it was among the first large-scale public charging networks, Ecotricity has come under significant criticism from users and rival operators over the speed, reliability and ease of use of its chargers.

In March Transport Minister Rachael Maclean said the Government would end the firm’s monopoly on motorway charging to help improve standards and increase driver confidence in the network.

Increasing the number and speed of public chargers is seen as vital in encouraging driver uptake of EVs and the Government has said it wants at least six superfast charging points - 150kW or higher - at every motorway service station by 2023.

Confirming the sale, Ecotricity founder Vince said: “We’ve reached an interesting point in the electric car revolution, exponential growth is just around the corner, the technology for charging has evolved with one standard and an incredible rate of charging now being possible.

Gridserve already operates the UK's first EV-specific service station at Braintree, Essex

“The Electric Highway needs a growth spurt, to make sure that it stays ahead of driver demand. For this the Electric Highway needs an owner with access to serious funding and real commitment to the cause – I’m delighted to have found the ideal company to hand the baton to, in Gridserve.”

Toddington Harper, CEO of Gridserve, added: “It’s a real honour to have been chosen by Ecotricity as the organisation to take the Electric Highway forward in its next phase. Our purpose is to deliver sustainable energy and move the needle on climate change, and the upgraded network will provide the confidence for millions more people to make the successful transition to electric vehicles in the earliest possible timeframes.”

In May, Ofgem announced a £300m investment in the UK energy network to help triple the number of ultra-rapid chargers along key routes such as motorways.