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Published on May 26th, 2014 | by James Ayre


Is Tesla Motors A “Bully”? Ecotricity Accuses Tesla Of Charging Station Site Bullying

May 26th, 2014 by  

teslalogoCan you really call any activity that happens in the world of business “bullying”? I’m not too convinced that’s ever the right term — after all, business is business, as the phrase goes. And apparently Tesla Motors is all about business — at least according to Ecotricity’s founder Dale Vince.

The Ecotricity head recently made the comment that the very well-regarded EV manufacturer was “bullying” the green energy provider. Apparently, the issue is that it is attempting to take over some of the best-placed EV charging sites in Ecotricity’s UK motorway charging network.

The current situation apparently stems from a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that was signed between Tesla and Ecotricity about three months ago when the two entered into a partnership intended to help Tesla build its own “Supercharger” network in the UK.

The Guardian provides more:

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,” Vince stated.

A spokesperson for Tesla recently revealed that, yes, the company had received the injunction, and would subsequently “respond accordingly.” Sounds ominous. Though, I guess that’s the way that lawyers for cash-loaded corporations always sound.

While the spokesperson didn’t confirm the NDA relationship with Ecotricity (legal reasons), he or she did note: “we do work with partners around the world as needed.”

Hard to say what the exacts of the situation are, but as noted above, business is business — a reality that would be worth remembering for those in the renewable energy industries, as much as for any others. Nonetheless, if the accusations are true, violating an NDA isn’t legal. We’ll have to see how this one turns out.

Regarding Tesla’s UK Supercharger network, the first part of it is currently set to open right around the same time as the launch of the right-hand drive version of the Model S.

Given the almost impressively(?) low EV sales in the UK to date, it’ll be interesting to see how the Model S does. I’d venture a guess that it will do fairly well — partly due to its own qualities, and partly due to the fact that the market as a whole is finally beginning to pick up.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Julian Cox

    Would it not be more accurate to report that Ecotricity is squatting on key SuperCharger sites seeking a pay-day from Tesla?

  • Andy Miles

    The idea that “business is business” is an excuse for immoral behaviour which grows a bit thin. We see large corporations involved in environmentally damaging activities, savagely exploiting the people who work for them, and avoiding paying fare taxes, all in the worship of profit. This is anti-social, psychopathic behaviour which is unacceptable in any civilised society.

    Ecotricity is a new kind of enterprise, which has a social goal as its main aim, which, in this case, is to invest all of its profits into creating new sources of renewable energy. It would be disappointing to find that Tesla, is just another company looking to exploit a new market purely for the sake of cash, which its behaviour in this case suggests that it is.

    • John

      Tesla reinvests all of its profits in an effort to push down the cost of EVs so that they might have a chance of becoming mainstream. Increasing EV adoption is Tesla’s own social goal.

      We don’t know the details and Tesla’s responses yet, so it’s too early to say if Tesla was really bullying or being “anti-social, psychopathic”.

      And for the record, it’s not purely for the sake of cash, it’s purely for the sake of EVs actually making it to market in a meaningful scale. That will change the world.

    • WeaponZero

      It is not like Tesla is pushing out Ecotricity. The opposite, Ecotricity is trying the hog the site unless Tesla pays them money. Aka they are trying to exploit Tesla for money.

  • J-C St-Pô

    these compares more to a gang protecting it’s turf, and wanting a share of business going on, on it’s turf!

    Strange you guys did not know about the landgrab war that is going on around the world by chargingnetworks
    Companys unaware of EV’s and their chargingneeds sign sometimes contracts of which they do not realise the consequences!

    This is only the first propertyowner that realises what stupidity they had done!
    More will come!

    This has less to do with troubles between Tesla & Ecotricity, then a landowner wanting it’s right to it’s own land back!

    Some of these landowners signed exlusivityrights for 50 years!!!

    Ecotricity shoots on Tesla, because it does not want you to know the real reason!
    Ever heard about : “If you do not like the message, shoot the messanger!” ?

  • WeaponZero

    How is that bullying? Ecotricity had an EXCLUSIVE contract on the site. Which means Ecotricity was keeping others out of the site unless they paid them. Tesla making way for themselves on that site is not bullying, that is business. It is not like they are forcing Ecotricity out.

  • Johnny Le

    I trust that Elon is not a bad guy, but Tesla needs to move fast and spends every dime efficiently. I have the feelings Ecotricity didn’t give Tesla that combination.

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