As an EV owner, I guess it's time to go?

I like Bulb, but as an EV owner, I seem to be completely disadvantaged. Tell me if I’ve got this wrong.

  • I can’t access the Smart tariff, as even if I can get a SMETS2 meter installed (I’ve been on the waiting list forever, bet heard nothing), Bulb apparently can’t currently implement this tariff for their own smart meter customers (as per @coles thread)
  • Even if I could get the Smart tariff, it doesn’t give me a cheap off-peak rate to charge my car without imposing a 44p unit rate between 4pm and 7pm. I have 3 children, and the cooking, washing, gaming, etc between those hours will neutralize any advantage
  • I have been on the EV owner waiting list forever too, but have heard nothing. The noises I hear are about smart charge points, which won’t be of much use to existing owners like me with a (dumb) charge point already installed. There have also been some vaguely anti-EV statements which I found amazing from a company whose business is to supply the fuel for EVs.

I will most likely move to EDF’s GoElectric tariff which offers SMETS2 installation and a 9pm to 7am plus weekends 8p rate. This would save me replacing or attempting to modify my charge point to take advantage of the other alternative, Octopus Go, as neither the point (Rolec) nor the car (I-Pace) are capable of timed charging.

Anyone agree or disagree with this analysis?

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So, I’ve applied for the switch to EDF. Because they can’t begin the EV tariff until the SMETS2 meter install, you have to switch to their best conventional tariff first, and then switch to the EV at the time of install “2 to 4 weeks later”.

Sad to go because there’s something very positive about Bulb, but with no EV tariff and smart meter installations/connections apparently in a mess I see no alternative.

The whole smart meter thing is such a shambles - incompetent governance at its finest - and I feel sorry for smaller suppliers like Bulb who seem to be struggling to navigate it.

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I think that all sounds fair enough TBH. The industry is in the middle of huge change and there are all sorts of ways suppliers can compete now making it a very tough industry to operate in (hence SSE deciding to abandon it altogether and just focus on power generation and networks). EVs are the best example of this and it will be the companies able to move quickly and be creative who will ultimately succeed IMO. At the moment I think Bulb are trying but have grown so quickly are still a pretty small company in some respects and struggling to keep lots of plates spinning. That might mean other companies have better options right now for EV owners. For what it’s worth, I think Bulb are fully behind EVs - there was a job ad on the website recently for someone to head up a new EV leasing business which would be a pretty ballsy move if they go through with it. High upfront cost is a big barrier so a leasing business would be a really interesting move. If I was an EV owner though I would probably be surveying the market regularly. We are close to a tipping point and I expect to see loads of new very competitive tariffs coming through.

Agreed. When smaller companies can install and connect SMETS2 meters reliably, they will then be quick to come up with innovative tariffs and solutions. Personally I don’t think that EV leasing is the way to go, as it’s very competitive, capital intensive, and risk-laden (in terms of the lack of empirical data on battery life). Time will tell.

I can’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I do have one question … if I were looking at spending Tesla-money on an EV then I would buy a Tesla purely for access to the superchargers. When looking to upgrade my Leaf, I’ve already discounted the iPace not only because it’s out of my budget, but because I can’t imagine having spent enough money to buy a Tesla only to still find myself sitting at Ecotricity MSA chargers! It would only take one event of me waiting to use the single Ecotricity charger, or finding it broken (again …) whilst looking at the bank of 4+ twice-as-fast superchargers that I would be questioning the sanity of my purchase.

What attracted you to the iPace?

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I think the I-Pace had me as soon as I drove it. If you enjoy driving, which I do, it’s a real source of pleasure. However, if you just see driving as a way of meeting the inconvenience of needing to get from A to B, then it doesn’t really stack up on grounds of cost and charging convenience.

However, I think the latter problem will be short-lived. Alternative charging places are already around, the main problem being that they don’t come with the required amenities (loo, cafe), but I think the landscape will have improved by this time next year.

I would add that IMO the Ecotricity MSA situation is bordering on criminal, and has seriously set back non-Tesla EV adoption in UK.

I think the I-Pace had me as soon as I drove it.

Was that your first time driving an EV? I believe that reaction is what happens every time someone drives an EV. Certainly, after researching EVs for a while, the first time I took a Leaf out that I was looking at buying, I was sold on it within seconds. It’s just so much better than any car I’ve ever driven before. And the old Leaf isn’t even a particularly good car!

I would add that IMO the Ecotricity MSA situation is bordering on criminal, and has seriously set back non-Tesla EV adoption in UK.

Couldn’t agree with you more. The sooner their MSA exclusivity agreement expires, the better.

Although I do worry that the big Tesla installations have already used up any spare supply capacity at basically all the MSAs, and even if they were allowed it would be non-trivial at this point for another company to come in and install another 4+ 150kW chargers. It’s very much a case of whoever gets there first gets a de-facto monopoly, because afterwards everyone else has to pay a fortune to upgrade the site supply.

Although I do worry that the big Tesla installations have already used up any spare supply capacity at basically all the MSAs, and even if they were allowed it would be non-trivial at this point for another company to come in and install another 4+ 150kW chargers. It’s very much a case of whoever gets there first gets a de-facto monopoly, because afterwards everyone else has to pay a fortune to upgrade the site supply.

The issue is Ecotricity’s contracts, not Tesla. Tesla are in Welcome Break and a couple of Extra MSAs, but they’re not at most of the services that Ecotricity have pumps installed. Where Tesla has done installs in MSAs, they have had to install new supply because they have not been able to use the existing provision (presumably the Ecotricity contract stops this). Tesla has faced massive problems generally in getting power supplied to (any) site, because it frequently needs consent of other landowners to lay the power over their property. The DNOs are very reluctant to use way leave to force this and that has delayed a lot of Tesla’s installs - some are nearly 2 years late solely because of power supply. I think that is an issue that will affect anyone trying to build a charging network (Ionity for example) with a large number of pumps in each location. However, if someone were to buy-out Ecotricity, it may be easier to increase the existing power supply than to establish an entirely new one.

So, I've applied for the switch to EDF. Because they can't begin the EV tariff until the SMETS2 meter install, you have to switch to their best conventional tariff first, and then switch to the EV at the time of install "2 to 4 weeks later".

Sad to go because there’s something very positive about Bulb, but with no EV tariff and smart meter installations/connections apparently in a mess I see no alternative.

The whole smart meter thing is such a shambles - incompetent governance at its finest - and I feel sorry for smaller suppliers like Bulb who seem to be struggling to navigate it.

I have now done the same, with a heavy heart. I completely agree with your sentiments about Bulb - they’re caught in an unhappy circumstance of having grown really quickly and then facing all sorts of problems with SMETS2. If/when they have a tariff that suits EVs better, I suspect I will be back.

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So, I've applied for the switch to EDF. Because they can't begin the EV tariff until the SMETS2 meter install, you have to switch to their best conventional tariff first, and then switch to the EV at the time of install "2 to 4 weeks later".

Sad to go because there’s something very positive about Bulb, but with no EV tariff and smart meter installations/connections apparently in a mess I see no alternative.

The whole smart meter thing is such a shambles - incompetent governance at its finest - and I feel sorry for smaller suppliers like Bulb who seem to be struggling to navigate it.

I have now done the same, with a heavy heart. I completely agree with your sentiments about Bulb - they’re caught in an unhappy circumstance of having grown really quickly and then facing all sorts of problems with SMETS2. If/when they have a tariff that suits EVs better, I suspect I will be back.

At least you guys can switch supplier, most of us are stuck here because our smart meters do not work… IHD’s do not work, we have no current way to read our meters, Bulb is guesstimating or readers = impossible to move suppliers!

Run away while it is still possible!

At least you guys can switch supplier, most of us are stuck here because our smart meters do not work... IHD's do not work, we have no current way to read our meters, Bulb is guesstimating or readers = impossible to move suppliers!

You can read your meters manually just like you did with the old meters.

None of the problems should prevent you switching supplier. Indeed, switching supplier to one with better handling of SMETS2 meters on their local (non-DCC) side may well improve matters.

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I was due to have a Siemens engineer to do a BULB Smart meter install next month, seeing as there are so many issues I think I’ll cancel the install.

Currently, we have Economy 7 and a Tesla which is charged at night between 1am and 8am, am I right in thinking that smart meters don’t work with E7? Would I still get the cheaper E7 price with a smart meter?

yup, new smets2 meters dont do the new bulb smart tarrif yet… ironically some of the older SMETS1 do.

Personally I wouldn’t touch smart meters for atleast a year, the systems absolutely pants, bulb worse than others… their true colours showed on the smart meter fiasco… only care about growth/profit not customer service… greedy directors/investors !

am I right in thinking that smart meters don't work with E7?

Just to be clear here, both SMETS1 and SMETS2 meters work just fine with E7, or any other time-based tariff including up to 48 rates per day (half-hourly variable).

What does not work is Bulb’s own systems for configuring those meters, or handling E7 billing from those meters. Bulb does not offer E7 with either version of smart meter. The only E7-like smart meter tariff is the “Smart Tariff” which as Pauli said is compatible only with some SMETS1 meters.

For a SMETS2 smart meter based tariff you’re currently better off looking at something like Octopus Go/Agile

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I moved from Bulb to E.ON. E.ON competently fitted a SMETS2 meter within 48hrs of me requesting by phone. I have just recently moved to the EDF ‘Go Electric’ tariff but only to get the off-peak tariff and the discounted EO charger installation.

Has anyone had experience with the EDF charger installation or the ‘Go Electric’ App and Tariff? How has it gone? Does the Go Electric charger App work well?

Did you move to the EDF Go Electric tariff? I’m in process of switching to this tariff and I’m keen to hear from anyone has had experience of the charger installation or the Go Electric charger app.

Hello, I have just started looking at EVs and I may be totally naive, but wouldn’t it be better for there to be a universal system of charging so that any EV can be charged anywhere? I do feel that we are in a world where we need to consider the good of the planet above financial considerations in some situations and indeed simplifying the process of charging to encourage more takeup will increased the research and development still further to make the EV market the most sustainable it can be. Also, I do not have a driveway so would be at the mercy of streetside EV chargers - am I going to find it too frustrating to even contemplate?

@pippy1958 besides Tesla’s Superchargers. All electric vehicles including Teslas can charge at any other charge point. Sometimes, one may be required to carry a CHADEMO Adaptor. The industry has moved towards the Type 2 port as being more or less the standard and CSS for high current. From what I can tell there is not much stopping BMW or other manufacturers setting up their own charging stations similar to Tesla. Tesla being the first to do so does give them some advantage. Personally I find Tesla’s Superchargers a significant incentive for me when comparing BMW, Tesla, etc.

What I find far more of a pain with other charge stations, is how they’ve not really been setup like a traditional Fuel Station (or like a Tesla Supercharger). Why more existing fuel station don’t have dedicated EV bays is beyond me. Take for instance one of our local fuel stations on the A2 in Kent, the EV bays are actually owned and part of the Holiday Inn, located behind the fuel station and have nothing to do with the actual fuel station. yet, on the zap-map they first appear to be part of the fuel station. And you may have guest correctly, that these EV bays are only for guests of the Holiday Inn.

Using zap-map.com I’ve found plenty of charging stations around me, but they are all located ad-hoc as part of paid parking lots, hotels, private companies, or as on street parking requiring a residents parking permit. Yet, they are also often not free to use either, and charge between 25-30p/kWh (more expensive than a Supercharger) and vary dramatically in charging current and therefore time for charging. For me this is the bigger problem. We need more dedicated high current EV charging stations on arterial roads. That can charge most EVs to 80% in 45min or less. Until, this gets resolved Telsa still holds a massive advantage as charging truly becomes something I won’t have to worry about for longer distance journeys. For the majority of the time I will charge at home, but for those longer journeys this is a pain point for almost all EVs.

Not quite. The only vehicle I know of that makes use of a chademo adapter is Tesla. For any other car, you need a rapid charger with the correct socket. Many of the legacy chargers (e.g., Electric Highway at the motorway service areas) have only chademo. That’s perfect for me with my Nissan Leaf, but all new EVs from other makes (including the Tesla M3) the standard is now CCS. You can’t get a CCS to chademo adapter. If the rapid charger doesn’t have CCS then you can’t use it. All the newer chargers (e.g., by Instavolt) have both CSS and Chademo, and looking on Zapmap just yesterday the low number of CCS points has improved significantly. But don’t expect Ecotricity to update their Electric Highway chargers any time soon. Luckily the EH exclusivity contract with the MSAs is ending soon, and companies that actually maintain their chargers will be able to have a go.

Exactly. I remember reading when Jaguar were testing their iPace, they found the lack of CCS charges at MSAs to be a problem. Especially when many of the Ecotricity chargers that do have CCS didn’t work properly. Well, if they’re not happy they could always roll out a Jaguar Supercharger network, right? Put their money where their mouth is. Similarly this is why hydrogen will never work for domestic transport. You can’t pump hydrogen through the existing gas supply lines, H2 is so small it leaks through basically everything even if it’s tight for CH4, and that’s before you even get into the low efficiency of generating hydrogen, transporting it to a filling station likely by road, and running it through a fuel cell. Toyota could possibly make it work if they committed to installing a network of hydrogen filling stations, but that’s not going to happen in the UK or quite possibly anywhere outside maybe Japan. It’s sad to see Toyota, who did so much work on hybrids, about to have their Kodak moment if they don’t stop their “self charging” nonsense and release a decent BEV soon.

I’m starting to change my mind on this. I used to think anyone spending a Tesla amount of money on an EV and not buying a Tesla must be insane purely because of the Supercharger network. I’m not buying an iPace and then still driving past the 8+ Supercharger bays and having to pull up at Ecotricity MSA chargers and worry whether the single CCS charger will actually work. But two things are happening.

  1. The number of CCS chargers is increasing, to the point where the limited location of Superchargers actually looks like a disadvantage. Tesla have sensibly used CCS on European versions of the M3, but on something like an existing Model S that can only use Superchargers or require an expensive Chademo adapter that would get annoying.

  2. The long range EVs are getting cheaper all the time. Just this weekend I’ve received notification that I’ve got to the top of the waitlist for ordering a Hyundai Kona. With a 64kWh battery that’s good for about 250 miles per charge. The UK is smaller than many people think. Birmingham to Cornwall is only about 165 miles. In my 24kWh Leaf I have a realistic range of 70 motorway miles before I have to charge. A journey like that takes me over 5 hours, made up of 3x 30 minutes charging stops plus about 3.5 hours of driving with traffic. In the Kona I could get there and half way back again on one charge! Birmingham to Inverness, 446 miles. The Kona could make it with just a single one hour rapid charge over lunch. At this point, the range is so good and rapid chargers so prolific that charging would cease to be any concern even without access to Superchargers.

The top spec 64kWh Kona is only about £3k cheaper than a Tesla Model 3, but the M3 has only 50kWh battery. I also don’t like the minimalist M3 interior. But I want a Tesla. They’re clearly the best in terms of software with OTA updates and the best driver experience. But my head is telling me to order the Kona. Still deliberating on what I might end up getting to replace the Leaf. Ultimately I shouldn’t buy anything. My Leaf gets me to work and back twice on one charge and will do for many years yet. But shiny gadgets …

I had a quick look. I found the Holiday Inn Express in Canterbury. That’s a BP Chargemaster on the Polar network. It’s publicly accessible, you just have to register your vehicle with the Holiday Inn reception. Maybe that’s the wrong one. I don’t think there any many rapid chargers that are restricted to customers of wherever they’re installed. For example, many Instavolt chargers are in Bannatyne gym car parks but they’re still for anyone to use. At worst you just have to check the car park is actually accessible outside their opening hours. Since BP bought Chargemaster (Polar) they are now about to start rolling out rapids on BP forecourts.

It’s worth noting that even when charging solely using rapids at 30p per kWh this still works out at about half the cost per mile of petrol.

As I said I’m pretty sure this is already resolved now and is only going to get better still over the next couple of years. Everyone has range anxiety when first getting an EV. Just do it, you wont regret it. I’m never going back to ICE.

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That’s some very useful information at @Hooloovoo. I was not quite aware that there is still such issues with charging port types. I had hoped that more charging stations had gone CSS for rapid charging. But as you say, EH exclusivity is set to expire.

Personally, I find that range anxiety in an EV in the UK (as you said the UK is rather small) only makes sense for vehicles with less than 150 mile range and totally depends on your commute, etc. Thankfully there are fewer of these now and many are approaching or passing the 250 mile range. For myself, we often drive longer journeys over 120 miles, on weekends, and not having to worry at all about charging until we get home is ideal.

You identified the correct EV charger on the A2 in Kent. It’s interesting what you’ve said as that was what I initially thought. Though, I read some comments, on zap-map, about people trying to use that charger who said they had to pay for parking. But maybe they were misinformed.

As the M3 supports CSS, I simply view the Superchargers as additional charging stations along with all the other CSS rapid charge stations. Kinda best of both worlds.

We’re certainly not in the market for a Tesla Model S, I did not even see that the S does not have CSS charging support, and for that matter we are definitely not looking at the iPace. Far too expensive.

Definitively in a similar position, though we still have a petrol vehicle. We are looking at vehicles such as the Kona, M3, VW ID3 and BMW i3s. Depending on specifications these are all quite similarity priced, though the performance M3, is much more expensive. Very interested in test driving the Kona compared to a M3, which I did enjoy, I was really impressed by how much space the M3 has and I suspect the Kona’s driving experience won’t be quite as fun as the M3. The wildcard is the VW ID3 however, it’s only set to launch late next year.