One of the UK’s green energy companies, Ecotricity, has announced that their game-changing “Electric Highway” has made its first move into Hampshire, with Ecotricity, Nissan and Welcome Break collaborating to install new fast-chargers at the Fleet Services on the M3 motorway.
The new facilities, which are free to use at the moment, are the first of ten fast-chargers for electric cars that will be installed over the next six months, on key routes into London from the Southern Counties. The expanding Electric Highway already has 26 fast-chargers at motorway service stops, linking London to Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds and the network is now heading South into Hampshire. By Easter 2014, Ecotricity aim to have installed 150 fast-chargers on the Electric Highway across the country, allowing an Electric Vehicle to recharge in 30 minutes.
All you need to do in order to use the system, is register with Ecotricity and they’ll send you a swipe card that will give you access to the charging points.
The charge points serve either 22kW AC or 50 kW AC/DC and you will need a swipe-card that is specific to the type of charge point that you need to use.
Pricing may change in the future, as the market adapts to changes in demand, but as things stand at the moment the re-charge is completely free. You do not even need to take your domestic electricity from Ecotricity. Non-domestic customers may be subject to a registration charge of £10 after they’ve been a member for 12 months, but you can still re-charge for free…
Powered with 100% renewable energy from the wind and the sun, the Electric Highway fast-chargers allow Electric Vehicles such as the Nissan LEAF to re-charge in 20 to 30mins, or about the time it takes to have a cup of coffee. This corresponds to the so-called “dwell-time” that motorists tend to spend at motorway services, according to industry research .
Ecotricity founder, Dale Vince, said:
“The growth of the Electric Highway across British motorways has just kicked into overdrive. We’ve added 20 fast-chargers in the last month alone and will continue at this rate until April next year.”
“The three perceived barriers to the growth of electric vehicles, price, travel range and re-charging times, are rapidly being overcome.”
“The first of these barriers, price, is being resolved by motor industry competition, which has forced down new car prices by as much 35% over the past two years.”
“The second and third barriers are really one and the same, concern over the distance that an electric car will travel on a single charge, called range anxiety. This is being overcome by installing fast-charging infrastructure in the right locations.”
“In fact, with modern Electric Vehicles having a range of over 100 miles and the average car journey in Britain being less than 30 miles, most charging happens at home overnight, so it’s only on the longer journeys where charging is really needed.”
“.. and that means service stations on motorways and A-roads.”
“By installing fast-chargers at these locations, we will solve the problem of range anxiety and charging times in one go.”
Even if you have to pay to recharge your electric car at home, there is still a saving to be had as Nissan claim that their LEAF uses less than 2 pence worth of electric per mile if charged on an Economy 7 overnight tariff. That compares to around 13p in a typical diesel and 15p for a typical petrol car
Paul O’Neil, Electric Vehicle Manager, Nissan Motor GB said:
“With free-to-use fast-chargers now installed along one of the UK’s most-used and most important motorway networks, Nissan LEAF drivers can now enjoy greater flexibility and convenience during their journeys, whatever the length.
“Nissan trail-blazed the electric vehicle market with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF and now we are doing the same with the UK’s fast-charging network.”
“Working alongside Ecotricity and other partners, including our dealer network, Nissan is on course to hit our target of 150 publicly accessible charging units by April 2014.”
Ecotricity say that approximately 23 million tonnes of fuel are burned by cars each year in the UK and claim that with petrol prices remaining permanently high, motorists driving a typical 8,500 miles per year would save around £1,000 in fuel costs at today’s prices. More importantly perhaps, those motorists would also save around 2,000kg in CO2 emissions.
Dale Vince added:
“With our fast-chargers being powered by renewable energy from the wind and the sun, the Electric Highway is enabling zero carbon driving, and at the moment it’s free to use too.”
Ecotricity have a map of charging points on their website. This shows that whilst Ecotricity have been working closely with Welcome Break [n.b.Fleet Services is Welcome Break] to get this Electric Highway up and running, they are also partnering with other business. This includes IKEA in Southampton, which is the only other location in this area [at the moment] which the map highlights as having a charging point in the pipeline…
Electric cars have been around for some time, but we close with a word of caution.
Not all electric vehicles are robust enough to be used safely on the Motorway, as many were designed primarily for urban use. Powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters are explicitly prohibited from the Motorway and there are other minimum requirements and specific regulations that apply to driving on Motorways.
This new generation of charging points is really intended for the new generation of electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf, which have been designed with the Motorway in mind…