Misdirected email sparks electric car war between Tesla and Ecotricity


Senior Reporter

An angry High Court dispute between two eco-tycoons which is delaying the rollout of Britain’s largest electric car charging network was allegedly sparked by a single misdirected email, one of the companies involved has told The Independent.

Ecotricity, the UK’s leading provider of green energy owned by former New Age traveller Dale Vince, is currently involved in a furious spat with Tesla, the US electric car manufacturer founded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, accusing it of trying to hijack its existing network of charging points.

Mr Musk’s firm, which launched its luxury electric saloon car the Model S in Britain last week, is in the process of creating its own network of Tesla-branded “superchargers” which will allow its customers to replenish their car batteries in a little over half an hour.

Until recently, it was in discussions with Ecotricity about installing new chargers at the same sites as the UK firm’s “electric highway” network. Relations were cordial until Tesla allegedly suddenly sent Ecotricity a bombshell email on 18 May allegedly describing how it intended to encourage service stations to break off their existing contracts with the British firm.

A furious Mr Vince described the email as a “declaration of war”, accused Tesla of attempting a “smash and grab raid” and took out an injunction at the High Court preventing the US company from proceeding with its plans.

Mr Vince has now told The Independent that the crucial email was sent in error by Greg Callman, head of supercharger deployment and stationary storage at Tesla, to Simon Crowfoot, Ecotricity’s director of new ventures.

“The email basically said that two senior people were flying out the following Wednesday, they were going to blacken our name with the Government, work with our motorway partners to help them break contract with us, and use the media to show us up as the bad guys,” Mr Vince told The Independent.

He was particularly angered by what appeared to be the suggestion of covert approaches to motorway service stations, saying that this would be in breach of a non-disclosure agreement that Ecotricity had signed with Tesla under which the US firm was given confidential information.

He added that he had initially believed that Tesla “were just telling us quite coldly what they were going to do”, but that he was now “pretty certain” that the email had only been intended to be circulated internally.

An injunction hearing about the case was due to take place this week, but has now been delayed, which may allow the firms to take part in mediation in the interim. Mr Vince would not be drawn on how much the dispute was costing in legal fees, but admitted that High Court actions were “never cheap”.

While he was in Britain to launch the Model S at the weekend, Mr Musk said of Mr Vince: “I’ve never even met the guy. Initially when we tried working with him he started making all sorts of outrageous demands, so we thought, ‘Well, OK, we’ll just not work with you’ – and then he sued us.”

But Mr Vince said the billionaire’s comments were “shocking”, adding: “To say that from the outset we made outrageous demands is baseless and absolutely untrue, and we’re staggered really that Elon should come to Britain for his launch event and peddle this nonsense.”

Before the misdirected email led to a spectacular fallout, the two firms had been cooperating very successfully, agreeing a deal whereby Tesla would get a 15-year lease for its chargers at Ecotricity’s existing sites. The British firm had even agreed to purchase a Model S car from Tesla to help promote its new chargers.

Tesla declined to comment.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

    Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

    £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

    Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

    £60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

    Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

    competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits