The green energy company Ecotricity has accused American electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla of ‘bullying’ after it attempted to take over a number of its electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Tesla CEO, Elon Musk who was appointed as an electric vehicle ‘tsar’ to the government by Nick Clegg in 2013, is planning to open the first part of its Supercharger network next month, to tie in with customer deliveries of the right-hand drive version of the Model S, which costs upwards of £50,000.
But Ecotricity, who recently announced that 500,000 charges had taken place on its Electric Highway network has alleged that Tesla is trying to “smash and grab” around six of its best-located sites.
The utility said that it had entered into a partnership with Tesla three months ago under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to help the US company build a charging network across UK motorways.
Tesla’s aim is for its customers to be able to drive its cars – some of which are capable of running up to 300 miles on one charge, much further than most electric cars – across the entire country without running out of power.
But Ecotricity’s founder, Dale Vince, said he had received on Sunday a “very dark”, “shocking” and “brutal” email from Tesla informing his company of Tesla’s intent to take over several of its sites.
An Ecotricity spokesman claimed Tesla was negotiating with a unnamed company, asking it to break off exclusivity contracts signed with Ecotricity and sign for Tesla instead. He said that Tesla had come in to contact with the company through its NDA with Ecotricity.
Ecotricity has sought an injunction at the high court to stop Tesla using information gleaned from the two company’s partnership under the NDA.
“We are shocked and disappointed that a company like Tesla, with its aura of new world technology and challenger brand status, could behave in such an old world way – shame on them and shame on Elon Musk,” said Vince in a statement.
A Tesla spokesman said the company had received the injunction and would “respond accordingly” but he could not comment on the specifics of the case as it was now a legal issue.”
Tesla has a network of over 100 such superchargers, capable of restoring much of the battery capacity on one of its cars within 30 minutes instead of the overnight charge supplied by a conventional mains charge, in countries including the US, China, Germany, France and Austria.