Crazier still, the reasoning behind it is fairly sound.
For a while now the percentage of the UK populace that's taken the plunge on electric cars and plug-in hybrids have enjoyed quite a few enviable benefits. As electric cars don't emit any tailpipe emissions they aren't subject to Britain's CO2-based tax rulings, there's a government subsidy to encourage an uptake in EV and PHEV ownership, and charging points have been free for the most part. That last bit is all going to change soon, and a big SUV is, weirdly, one of the reasons behind the switch.
A closer inspection, though, reveals an understandable justification behind this move. Though the firm Ecotricity (which operates a majority of British motorway service station charging points) did announce the fee introduction last week, the move to change it from £5 for 20 minutes to £6 for 30 minutes is in response to the popularity of cars like the coming-soon-to-the-States Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Ecotricity owner Dale Vince explicitly stated in response to a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV owner's query that using Ecotricity's charging network to avoid using the car's gasoline engine was an "inappropriate use of a fast charger," with the new fees designed to put PHEV owners off using service station chargers.
As we stated earlier, the decision is an understandable one when you look at it from this perspective. However, as Motoring Research argues, it could have a pretty sizable impact on the UK's uptake of electric and plug-in hybrid cars, at a time when, in spite of the sales success of the Outlander PHEV, there's still an awful lot of skepticism over battery life and range anxiety. Of course we're not saying that charging points should be free forever. The ranges of EVs and PHEVs will undoubtedly improve over time, but there is the case to be made that, in the United Kingdom in this moment of time at least, it's probably a bit too early to introduce fees like this when partially and fully electric cars are still some way off from having full mainstream appeal.