British Gas has teamed up with Volkswagen to accelerate the rollout of its electric vehicles (EV) across UK roads by helping drivers to charge up at home at a lower price.
The UK’s biggest energy company has agreed a three-year deal with the carmaker to offer owners of new electric VW vehicles a one-stop package to help plug into home charging.
Under the exclusive agreement British Gas engineers will be responsible for installing the fastest home car-charger available, alongside an energy tariff that offers cheaper rates for nighttime charging.
The tie-up could help make it easier for drivers to switch to an electric VW vehicle, and may also provide a new earnings stream for the embattled energy supplier, which fell to an all-time low last year.
Alex Smith, the managing director of Volkswagen UK, said 2020 would be a “landmark year” for group, after launching the ID.3 model. It plans to produce 330,000 vehicles a year by 2021.
The cars are capable of travelling for 205-340 miles on a single charge, and Smith believes the deal with British Gas could “give customers even more confidence, as they make the switch to emission-free driving”.
The collaboration could help British Gas fend off rising competition from a string of challenger brands by relying more on energy services such as boiler repairs, insurance cover and home car charging to generate revenue.
The agreement with VW comes less than a year after the owner of British Gas, Centrica, struck a deal with Ford to market its car chargers and EV-charging tariffs from US carmaker’s forecourts across the UK.
A similar strategy is being pursued by Ovo Energy, the UK’s second-largest energy supplier, and Scottish Power, which have both collaborated with Nissan on small-scale deals to help install compatible home chargers for its Nissan Leaf model.
Centrica is under pressure to prove to shareholders that its strategy will pay off, after reporting a loss of more than £1bn for 2019, after the government’s energy price cap cut earnings at British Gas to all-time lows.
The chief executive, Iain Conn, is to step down this year and the company is yet to announce a successor.
Sarwjit Sambhi, the head of Centrica’s consumer business, said it was committed to finding “a pathway for the energy transition”, which is in line with the Paris agreement by “helping our customers reduce their emissions, reducing the emissions of the energy system as a whole, and reducing our own”.
“We made material progress on all of these during 2019 and are committed to a plan for delivering net zero by 2050,” he said.