Hello and welcome to your daily Charge Smart blog! Today, we will be talking about Ionity. They are an EV charging service provider who have hiked their rates in Norway which has made charging more expensive than petrol!
Above: An Ionity charging station
For years, Norway has been the success story for EVs and in some ways, still is! They have been Europe’s EV centre for something like 9 years, they held the record for the most EVs sold in the region all the way until December 2019 when they were overtaken by Germany. A country much bigger than Norway, something like 16 times but only managed to purchase 700 more EVs than the Norwegians.
Now there’s a new issue that’s bad news for Norway but could lead to Germany increasing their lead and other European nations making up some ground on Norway’s fantastic lead. A European EV fast charging network called Ionity recently stirred up trouble in Norway when they hiked their electric car charging rates. Their new increased rates meant that recharging an electric car has suddenly become more expensive than filling up a petrol or diesel car.
Just to give you some background information. Ionity is an EV charging network founded through a joint venture between 4 automotive giants. Who are they, you might ask? Well, these 4 include BMW, Mercedes, Ford and the Volkswagen group which mostly includes Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche who all currently sell EVs or have models in the pipeline. Previously, Ionity operated their charger through a fixed rate that the customer paid to recharge their car. It was something like 8 euros which equates to a very reasonable 14ish Kiwi dollars. Then Ionity had a change of heart and decided to base the charging rates on a fixed Euro amount per kWhr. The new fixed rate benefits EV drivers whose cars have bigger batteries like those from Audi, BMW and Mercedes! Though, the new EV rates made recharging rather costly for people who don’t own cars by those brands. Owners of cars like the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe were the ones who bore the brunt of this. Coincidentally, the Nissan Leaf is the best-selling EV in the country. Hmm, what’s that I smell. It seems like a bit of strategy to me.
Above: The VW Group are one of the owners of Ionity
A study conducted in Norway said that these types of fast chargers were mostly used by EV owners whose cars had larger batteries and longer ranges. The revised rate of electricity means that the rates at these chargers are now somewhere like $1.45 NZD per KWhr. That means an EV with a battery capacity of 70kWhr will now cost just over 100 bucks to recharge! Naturally, the Norwegian EV council is not happy about this decision. Ionity has plans to implement a standard recharge rate across the board for EV charging. The council also says that the new hike makes recharge rates higher than the cost of petrol in the Nordic country along with the fact that Ionity are charging Norwegians a higher price as compared to the rest of Europe. The Norwegian EV council is calling it 21st century highway robbery!
The council can’t see eye to eye with Ionity and they think this new move will lead to fewer people recharging through Ionity stations across the country. A country which enjoys cheaper electricity rates than much of Europe anyway. However, Ionity’s CEO issued a statement saying that it was one of the company’s goals to offer a “uniform charging network” across Europe. He went on to say that their new pricing structure meant that the rates were transparent for all European customers who would like to recharge their EVs through Ionity systems. The company also said that their customers can choose from Ionity’s charging service providers including Audi’s E-tron charger, BMW’S ChargeNow system, Mercedes’ meCharge, Porsche’s charger and Volkswagen’s WeCharge services. If it wasn’t clear already, Ionity are clearly favouring their founding partners. Ionity’s pricing is forcing customers to sign up to the manufacturer’s subscription based charging services to access the cheaper charging rates that they had before.
As an example, if you’re subscribed to Audi’s charging service which is about $30 a month, you only have to pay $0.5 per kWhr when you use an Ionity charger as compared to a rate of $1.45 for customers who have not signed up to these services. The company’s announcement was met with severe backlash from customers across Europe, even those who are owners of EVs from the likes of BMW and Audi who have done without their subscription services so far.
Now that we’re done with that bit of bad news, next up let’s take a look at some more positive news.