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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