Ecotricity Accuse Tesla of ‘Smash and Grab’ UK Charging Infrastructure Raid

UK based green utility company and electric car charging infrastructure provider Ecotricity has filed court papers against Californian automaker Tesla Motors in a disagreement over public charging infrastructure.

Dale Vince, founder of utility company and electric car charging network Ecotricity, is accusing Tesla of "Smash and Grab" tactics.

Dale Vince, founder of utility company and electric car charging network Ecotricity, is accusing Tesla of “Smash and Grab” tactics.

As The Evening Standard detailed earlier today, Ecotricity has brought an interim High Court injunction against Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] for what it calls a “smash and grab raid” on its intellectual property concerning nationwide public charging stations.

The company behind the largest public rapid charging network in the UK with more than 100 public DC and AC quick charging stations deployed along motorways and in parking lots of stores like IKEA, Ecotricity says it was approached by Tesla many months ago when the electric automaker was planning its Tesla Model S entry into the UK market to help it plan and build its UK Supercharger network.

But after introducing Tesla to various motorway service companies, Ecotricity says Tesla went behind its back and tried to cut it out of any deals.

“After signing a mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement, Ecotricity helped to design Tesla’s network, showed them the best locations, introduced them to our landlords and partners, and started building the first two chargers for them ready for the launch when Elon comes to town, on the 7th of June,” said Ecotricity founder Dale Vince in an official statement earlier today.

“Sunday evening just gone we received from Tesla, very clear threats to undermine Ecotricity and the Electric Highway. This followed a Sunday Times article that day which described Tesla’s plans for what they called an Electric highway and showed a map with four locations on, all of them our locations,” he continued.

Essentially, Ecotricity says, Tesla has broken its confidentially agreements.

Ecotricity isn't happy with the way Tesla has treated it.

Ecotricity isn’t happy with the way it says Tesla has treated it.

“The e-mail itself was shocking and brutal, it set out what Tesla were going to do to Ecotricity this week in talks with Government, our partners and the media. It was very dark,” said Vince. “Tesla appear to have liked what they have seen in our Electric Highway, indeed they told us they had not seen anything like it in all the markets they operate in to date. They liked it so much they appear to have decided to simply take it – this is nothing more than an attempted smash and grab raid.”

Transport Evolved reached out to Tesla Motors for official comment, and were told that while Tesla is aware of the actions being taken by Ecotricity, it cannot discuss pending legal matters any further.

“We are shocked and disappointed that a company like Tesla, with it’s [sic] 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,” Vince concluded.

As always, there are two sides to every story, so with the interim High Court injunction papers now filed at the Chancery Division of the High Court in London, we’ll have to wait until the court return date of 4th June to find out more.

Watch this space.


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  • Dennis Pascual

    I am a fan of Tesla’s. However, it would seem to me that if Tesla did indeed approach Ecotricity and signed papers with them to partner up, then it is appalling that they behaved in this manner.nnnTesla could have easily mimicked the Ecotricity network by taking one of their Model S and driving the country and locating the same locations that they have decided to place their superchargers and approaching the location operators directly.nnnThere is no need to have involved Ecotricity in this expansion at all.

    • WeaponZero

      The question comes down to if they actually had a contract to work together or did they just sign NDAs. An NDA is just a non-disclosure agreement, you can sign an NDA and do no work together.

      • Dennis Pascual

        I understand the limitations of the NDA. However, there is also the issue of building a positive reputation and expansion in other markets to consider. These actions are indeed “shameful” and it’s up to the courts to decide whether damage was done, etc. However, the damage to Tesla’s reputation is done and it is somewhat self-inflicted if they DID do as Ecotricity purports.nnnTesla did not have to involve Ecotricity at all in any part of this deal. If they wanted to just mirror their network, they could have done that with the download of an App (I assume that Ecotricity has a charge finding App) and boots on the ground to approach the owners of the sites. Tesla has been in the news and making a splash all over the world with mostly positive news. Additionally, they have over a hundred site owners now that they can refer the UK owners to.nnnIt may or may not be illegal, but it’s just bad behavior (and the results will determine whether or not it’s bad business in the short or long run.)

        • Espen Hugaas Andersen

          My guess is that Tesla wanted to partner up with Ecotricity and investigated that option together with Ecotricity under NDA’s, but eventually rejected that option. (Maybe a disagreement about cost?)nnThen Tesla went on it’s merry way, proceeding without Ecotricity. Maybe using some of the information from the cooperation with Ecotricity, maybe not. This annoyed Ecotricity, who contacted Tesla in some way, and this in turn triggered Tesla to get it’s lawyers involved, who wrote a heavy handed letter/email, as US lawyers tend to do.nnBasically, this smells of a business deal gone south. Unfortunate, but probably not something that is likely to go anywhere in the legal system.

          • Dennis Pascual

            What is interesting is the fact that the Supercharger network in other parts of the globe does NOT use a partnership model with any charging infrastructure provider. They have been with location partners (such as the Simon Malls one, I believe).nnnSo, this whole process looks like it is a variance from Tesla’s norm. A norm that seems to have served itself well in other markets.

        • WeaponZero

          Dennis, I would wait to get both sides of the story before making any claims of behavior. Though as Espen said such things do happen in the normal course of business. It doesn’t mean there is any fault being done.nnAgain, we have no indicator if there was a deal or not. You sign NDA as a first step to talking. As someone who owns a few businesses myself we don’t do business with 99% of companies we signed NDAs with. They are only non-disclosure agreements.nnAlso, Tesla has no reason to mimic Ecotricity’s network. Ecotricity is making a network for low range EVs with require hundreds of chargers. Tesla only need 8 chargers. Ecotricity is complaining about 4 of those 8 just happen to be in same locations they are?nnAka they really don’t have a case.

  • Red Sage

    I dund get it.nnI am rather confused as to why either ecotricity or Tesla Motors would need an ‘exclusive’ arrangement with a particular site.nnThat seems rather counterintuitive to the propagation of electric vehicles in any territory.nnIs this an issue of branding…? Did ecotricity seriously believe that Tesla’s Superchargers would be… neon green, with ecotricity logos on them? Or… Did Tesla decide that it would be too confusing to have a Supercharger in the same lot as the ecotricity CHAdeMO chargers?nnOr… Is it a situation where there are limited parking spots for charging, limited power-flow on-hand for charging, and one or the other doesn’t want to share space at certain prime locales at all?nnI wouldn’t have thought setting up free charging stations would be so competitive.

    • Andyj

      Tesla’s can use Ecotricity’s 22KW Mennekes chargers but if Tesla build these things behind their back where Ecotricity had planning and most importantly, electric services reserved. This will exclude other ev’s from charging there.nnnnSo, if you did not have a Tesla and you needed to charge there. You’d “get it” most succinctly.

  • Keef Wivaneff

    Ecotricity have built a network of charging stations to support small to medium size electric vehicles which are used mainly for city driving and which have a positive effect on the environment.nTesla on the other hand…..nnnProduces a taxpayer subsidised 2 Ton enviro-vicious behemoth for ageing yuppies.nIt uses over a ton of Aluminium and half a ton of toxic (and mainly non-recyclable) batteries.nIt uses a Tesla only charging network that draws prodigious amounts of electricity.nIt chews up tyres in a matter of weeks.nTesla has lost over a billion dollars to date but continues to reward CEO Eloon Musk with stock options.nLosses for the latest quarter were over $50M and Eloon received $10M as a reward.nBuyers are reporting major quality issues including drive train, battery and brake failures, water leaks and corrosion caused by road salt.nAn army of shareholders and fan-boys saturate the web with glowing reports about the wonderful Green Terdsla.nIt’s not Green…’s BROWN.nIt’s a TERD 🙂

  • Andyj

    Seems like “Tesla” are in breach of contract. My take is the courts will make them pay but will the courts tell them to sling their hook away from the parking locations Ecotricity was setting out in their plans?nnTeslas in the EU are hobbled with the “type-2” socket which is sub-par to CCS and Chademo. The more I learned about Tesla cars, the more I’ve gone off them. Now it seems we can add the fact the management are snakes.nnMost EV’s will be sub Tesla priced and will receive most of the buying traffic and Teslas can still use them. So what’s the game. Share prices are too high or something?

  • Julian Cox

    Classic squatter playing the victim.

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