Polar CEO: Electric Car Owners Are Rich, Can Pay To Charge

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Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

Polar Charging Post and Nissan Leaf

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Remember Polar Network, the U.K.-based charging network that costs electric car owners upwards of $30 a month to gain access to charging points? 

Previously, Polar’s sales director Neil Sharpe said that its level 2 charging stations were not designed to help electric car owners travel long distances. Now David Martell, CEO of Polar Network and Chargemaster -- Polar's sister company --  has joined the fray, calling claims that his company is preying on electric car owners “Hysteria”

“Electric Car Owners Can Afford It”

During a cellphone conversation with Mr. Martell yesterday, we personally offered him the opportunity to set the record straight about the network which has caused an outcry from electric car owners in the U.K. Unfortunately however, Mr. Martell refused to accept criticisms from electric car drivers. 

“Look, it’s like this,” Martell said. “No-one asks you to go to an expensive restaurant. You don’t have to eat out if you don’t want to. No-one is making [electric car owners] join our network”

Polar offers multiple levels of membership, much like a cellphone call plan. The base level only includes access to the public charging network, and costs customers £19.50 ($30.73) a month. 

Polar Network Charging Stations

Polar Network Charging Stations

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Subscribe to the next service level, which includes rental of a home charging station,  and you'll pay £29.50 ($46.50) a month in rental fees. Add a charging point at your place of work, and you'll be paying £39.50 ($62) a month.

In addition, customers are expected to pay a £95 ($150) joining fee, agree to a 24-month contract, and pay an additional 95 pence ($1.50) every time they use one of Polar's public charging stations. 

Misplace or damage Polar's specialized RFID card, and Polar Network will sting you with a $15 replacement fee. 

When it came to claims that the network was taking advantage of early adopters of electric cars, Martell was frank. 

“If someone has just spent £30,000 [$47,000] on a new electric car, they can afford to join our network,” he defended, adding “we’re not a charity.” 

Frustrating Service, Flawed Posts

Earlier this year, Charge Master -- the parent company of the Polar Network -- announced that it would be installing electric car charging stations at the rest-stop restaurant chain Little Chef

Free until the end of 2012, Little Chef promised the charging points would allow fast charging of up to 7 kilowatts to allow electric car owners to top up their car while enjoying a hot meal. 

In reality, things are somewhat different, with electric car owners claiming that Polar Network charging stations at LIttle Chef restaurants are poorly sited and non-functioning, with restaurant staff unsure of how they work. 

Polar Network Charging Stations

Polar Network Charging Stations

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Jon Tracey, an early-adopting Leaf owner, reports calling up the telephone number posted on the Polar Network charging station to be told that the person answering the telephone was the only person in the office, and had no idea how to activate the charging station

After three failed attempts to power the charging station up, Tracey gave up and found another, free charging post at the limits of his car’s range to refuel at. 

He’s not the only one to have issues with Polar, either.

Nissan Leaf owner Paul Churchley went to try a Little Chef  charging station, only to be told that in order to use the “free until the end of 2012” service, he would have to register for a time-limited account with Polar. 

In addition, he was told he could only use the polar network 12 times before he would have to subscribe in order to continue using the service. 

Ninety minutes after arriving, the car started charging. 

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Comments (5)
  1. “If someone has just spent £30,000 [$47,000] on a new electric car, they can afford to join our network,” he defended, adding “we’re not a charity.”

    As half of an EV owning couple, I'd like to comment and say this is utter rubbish and extremely offensive. We are not rich, buying the Leaf was a decision taken extremely carefully and while manageable, was not without sacrifice. We did it because we believe in the car and support the technology. However, if charging companies have this attitude, I really don't see why anyone else would want to bother.

    I'm really very, very disappointed.

  2. I'm disgusted by what I've read here (and for the record, it's not just here - there are many similarly negative reports on leaftalk.co.uk and elsewhere) and unless there's a serious about-face from the company and in particular this odious-sounding individual, there's no chance I'll pay money to Polar, on principle. I hate parasites.

    ZeroCarbonWorld and Ecotricity are showing how it should be done. More power to them (pun intended).

  3. since then I posted on polars Facebook pages just letting them know my experiences and asking them to ensure staff are trained up on how to operate the posts. The post on Facebook has been deleted and I appear to be banned from posting on their page right now

  4. That's disgusting, if true. However, the article above does paint a fairly clear picture, of a company that's set up solely to squeeze money from a developing market. I guess it's naive to hope otherwise... whenever a new market sector forms (even one motivated largely by ideals, like EVs) there's always some parasite that bleeds it dry until the market matures enough to protect itself.

    If Polar is that parasite, it's very unfortunate for us EV drivers, especially as it seems to have gained some form of recognition from the authorities.

  5. I think Polar should take it and stick it where the Sun doesn't shine...Sweden would be a good place to stick it with that over priced piece of garbage they have. We can't allow these greedy sneaky 'Charge Barons' stick it to us like those greedy cell phone barons did. I hope we have wised up enough from the cell phone greed that we won't allow it happen with the EVs.

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