An out-of-court settlement between Tesla and green energy supplier Ecotricity means that the Supercharger network can expand once again.
Tesla previously promised British owners of its electric cars that they would be able to travel the country top to bottom on free power taken from its Supercharger network a few months ago. It is theoretically possible to do so, but only with a risky long leg between Leeds and Edinburgh.
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Legal dispute stunts Tesla Supercharger network growth
Progress in developing the Supercharger network was held up by a legal dispute between Tesla and Ecotricity. In January, 20 Supercharger sites were declared live, but now Tesla has announced a further expansion which will allow drivers to travel “routes to the West of Scotland and Eastern England.” Seven more sites will be brought into service, and their location is interesting.
It appears that both Tesla and Ecotricity plans were affected by the legal dispute, as both companies have announced that new sites will go live following its settlement.
The issue arose after Tesla initially partnered with Ecotricity prior to the release of the right-hand drive Model S in Britain. Tesla presumably thought that it had found a good partner to develop the Supercharger network, as Ecotricity already possessed over 150 charging stations.
Both companies worked well together until last May, when Ecotricity filed an injunction against Tesla for allegedly cutting it out of deals with potential landlords. It was also alleged that an email from Tesla threatened to defame Ecotricity and steal its partners away.
Settlement allows work to continue
Ecotricity founder Dale Vince described how Tesla attempted to perform a “smash and grab raid” of his intellectual property, and Tesla’s Elon Musk blamed the souring of the relationship on Vince’s “outrageous demands.” The legal wrangling stepped up a notch as Tesla launched a lawsuit against Ecotricity, claiming it had used its position to stunt the growth of the Supercharger network.
Now that a settlement has been reached, we will not get to know many of the juicier details of the case, but it would appear to have resulted in a victory of sorts for Tesla. The new Supercharger stations will be built in areas that Ecotricity previously maintained exclusivity agreements, namely highway service stations.
The settlement will allow both companies to devote their time and energy to driving adoption of electric vehicles in the UK.