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EV energy tariffs: Are manufacturer partners always the best option?

Tags: #ev-energy-tariffs

Electricity tariffs for electric vehicles are big business. All major suppliers now have tariffs specifically designed to meet the needs of EV owners, and there is an ever-growing array of companies which specialise in green, EV-specific supply. For buyers, the choice is daunting with manufacturer partners, specialist suppliers and the big energy firms all competing for business.

One of the themes emerging in the EV market is manufacturer partnerships with energy companies. This gives EV buyers the ability to throw in a suitable energy tariff and (more often than not) a home charger at the point of sale.

Current partnerships

Most recently, Mitsubishi has teamed up with OVO energy to provide customers with an ‘off the shelf’ option to buy an energy tariff alongside their Outlander PHEV. Through the partnership both companies are aiming to help their customers decarbonise their personal transport by buying into a supply derived from renewables.

OVO’s ‘EV Everywhere’ plan provides either a free home charger or subscription to the public POLAR plus network alongside a two-year, 100 per cent green energy supply. Whilst this particular partnership is in its infancy having only just been announced, both companies have further initiatives in the pipeline.

Other partnerships include Ford and Centrica (parent company of British Gas), in which Centrica has essentially become the preferred supplier for Ford’s slowly growing range of PHEVs and eventually the Mach-e. Through this, Ford customers can opt to buy into the Green Drive tariff and have a Centrica engineer install their home charger.

VW has partnered with Ecotricity – a green energy company that reinvests in projects such as new wind farms. Its Green Electricity + Car tariff can be bought by VW owners at the point of sale, or after purchase providing they are the registered keeper. When it comes to charger installation, VW – like many other car makers – partners with PodPoint. VW is going one step further, having created its own energy firm in Germany called Electric Life. The project is in its infancy, but expect it to grow as the ID. cars gain in popularity.

PSA Group, which consists of Citroen, Peugeot and now Opel/Vauxhall, as well as Renault and Nissan have leveraged their existing partnerships with EDF, which makes sense given the French origins of many of these brands. Nissan is working on Vehicle to Grid (V2G) charging in the UK and Europe with EDF, exploring smart grid technology to develop future infrastructure. In the immediate instance, as well as buying into an EDF supply when buying a Nissan EV it’s actually possible to lease any of the brand’s electric range via EDF itself.

Whilst not a partnership between a manufacturer and energy supplier, the fact that it’s now possible to lease an EV via an energy company is another part of the market that will grow in the coming years. Octopus Energy and Wallbox recently went into partnership to provide an end-to-end, V2G-capable option for consumers. Through this, customers can get themselves a Nissan LEAF, V2G-capable Wallbox home charger and 100 per cent renewable energy tariff from Octopus for £299 per month.

There are further partnerships in the pipeline for home supply the UK, especially with regards schemes currently available in mainland Europe making their way over here. Vattenfall with Honda and EnBW with Mercedes are just two such partnerships that are providing home supply over there.

What happens at the point of sale?

Choice is a good thing for consumers, but it’s a double-edge sword when it comes to something as intangible and often confusing as energy tariffs. A potential issue for EV buyers is being faced with the option of switching energy supplier at the point of sale. None of the deals available in the above partnerships are mandatory for someone to buy an EV, but it’s not hard to imagine unscrupulous franchised car dealers bending the facts – especially if there are sign-up targets to meet.

More to the point, the trade is still getting to grips with the EV sales process with the likes of MG addressing the inconsistent buying experience that plagues franchised networks.

As consumers, the best thing you can do is know the facts and ensure that you’re armed with all the relevant information before you go into a dealership. Many energy companies outside of those partnered with car manufacturers will deal with home charger installation at least as well as preferred suppliers. In some cases, the chances are the experience will be better as EV-specific energy suppliers have to work hard to compete.

Top 5 EV energy suppliers

As we’ve stated, the choice of energy suppliers that have EV-friendly tariffs is big – and growing. Comparison sites like Utility Saving Expert are your friend when making informed choices, though it is always worth learning what (if any) advantages a manufacturer partner can offer. Below is a selection of just a few of the best suppliers of EV-friendly tariffs, what they offer and links to their pricing.

  1. British Gas Electric Drivers Energy Plan 2021: This tariff is designed specifically for EV drivers and where not already installed, a smart meter is provided. The company’s ‘local heroes’ website can quote you on charger installation.
  2. EDF has a range of EV-specific options. These include 100 per cent renewables, discounted rates on charger purchase and installation and even up to 5000 miles worth of electricity to get you going – for free.
  3. Octopus Energy’s ‘Go’ tariff can see EV drivers charge for the equivalent of around 1p per mile thanks to preferable off-peak charging rates. Its V2G ‘Powerloop’ option is available in regions supplied by UK Power Networks and is a great option for anyone wanting to be at the forefront of a new way of managing energy.
  4. Pure Planet’s EV-oriented options, like the others here, are derived from 100 per cent green energy and are marketed as being a good balance between cheap night time charging rates and daytime unit rates that aren’t expensive as a result.   
  5. OVO Energy’s EV Everywhere tariff, which new Mitsubishi customers will be offered, has the benefit of a free smart charger for those without one, or free POLAR plus membership for those who already do.

 

Discover EV’s take

Whether a manufacturer has a partnership with an energy supplier or not, the best thing you can do is arm yourself with as much information as you can before going into a showroom. It may well be that the point of sale option is the best one for your circumstances, and we do think that overall, manufacturers are doing the right thing by joining forces with energy companies. It gives their customers a hassle-free way of getting up and running with their new EV. 

But remember, you are under no obligation to switch to a partner energy supplier if you don’t want to – the choice is yours.

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