Government awards £2.8 million electric car charging contract

electric charging bay

Highways England has awarded a £2.8 million contract that will see more than 50 electric vehicle charging points installed across the country within nine months.

The news comes as the government redoubles its efforts to ensure 95 percent of motorways and major A roads are no more than 20 miles from an electric charging point.

After awarding the contract to BP Chargemaster to carry out work in the north and Swarco eVolt in the south, Mark Collins of Highways England said: “To help improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions we’re introducing more electric charging points, at locations near to the network, for example at nearby town centres. This shows that we are looking ahead to meet the future demand for this facility.

“This contract is about supporting drivers of electric vehicles using our network. It will give them additional charging facilities just off England’s motorways and major A roads to help them make longer journeys and reduce the anxiety of potentially running out of power.

“We look forward to the benefits this will provide drivers on our roads.”

‘Best place in the world to own an electric vehicle’

Roads Minister Jesse Norman MP added: “The government wants the UK to be the best place in the world to own an electric vehicle, leading the way to a zero emission future.

“Installing extra vehicle charging points along or nearby our motorways and main roads will help more businesses and people to make longer, cleaner and greener journeys in their electric vehicles.”

The contract includes the initial installation and commissioning of facilities, followed by ongoing operation and maintenance for seven years. The 50 electric charging points are in addition to the points being installed as part of Highways England’s collaboration with local authorities until 2021.

‘Make the switch to electric’

Electric vehicle charging

David Martell, chief executive of BP Chargemaster, said: “Access to convenient, fast and reliable charging points across the UK will help enable the mass adoption of electric vehicles.

“We have been focused on creating such infrastructure over the past 10 years and are very proud to be working with Highways England to expand the provision of rapid charging points so that an even greater number of drivers can make the switch to electric.

Justin Meyer, general manager at Swarco eVolt, added: “We are delighted to have been selected by Highways England for this project to expand the national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, it is [a] testament to the range and reliability of our systems and our strong support network across the UK.”

Nissan Leaf

Electric car values rise 7% in 2017

Nissan Leaf

Consumer interest in electric vehicles has resulted in used car values increasing by 7% this year, according to Cap HPI. Alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) took a record market share of 4.4% in June, with more than 10,700 of them hitting the roads.

That’s a rise of 29%, with the surge in interest having a knock-on effect on the secondhand market, as supply struggles to keep up with demand.

More electric car news on Motoring Research: 

Chris Plumb of Cap HPI said: “Interestingly, it appears to be the range-extender models driving the recent strong performance, as values of pure electric have struggled of late. The BMW i3 is a popular choice and is a great secondhand buy. It brings a good level of specification and badge prestige.

“The optional range-extender can increase the range of the BMW i3 in Comfort mode from up to 125 miles to a total of 206 miles. The small, rear-mounted, quiet two-cylinder petrol engine powers a generator that maintains the charge of the battery at a constant level, so that the BMW i3 can continue to drive electrically.”

The BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf are named as Cap HPI’s used electric vehicle best buys, with a longer range the key to higher values.

RangeModel/trimCost new15/15 20,000 miles
BMW i35-dr Auto (13-16) [170]£30,925£14,650
BMW i3Range Extender 5-dr auto (13-16) [170]£34,075£18,400
Nissan LeafTekna 5-dr Auto (15–) [109]£30,535£9,900
Nissan LeafTekna 30kWh 5-dr auto (15–) [109]£31,435£12,200

A Nissan Leaf with the 30kWh battery pack offers a claimed range of 155 miles, which is 31 miles more than the smaller capacity – but cheaper – 24kWh version. But while there’s a saving of around £1,000 at the point of purchase, the 30kWh Leaf retains more value on the secondhand market.

Motorway electric car charging now more expensive than petrol

Ecotricity hits EV drivers with £5 fee for 20 minute charge

Motorway electric car charging now more expensive than petrol

The company behind the UK’s ‘electric highway’ and sole provider of electric car chargers at motorway service stations has announced it’s going to start charging a fee for charging your electric car.

Ecotricity has revealed that it plans to roll out a £5 fee for a 20 minute charge at its 300 fast-charging stations across the country.

A 20 minute charge in our Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV long-term test car will fill the battery by around 50%. At most, that provides enough power for around 15 miles of electric-only driving. Without charging, the same distance will cost around £2 in petrol.

In an email sent out to its users, Ecotricity said: “When we began in July 2011, there was a bit of a chicken and egg situation – people were reluctant to buy electric cars because there were no charging facilities being built, but nobody wanted to build those facilities while there were still so few cars on the road. That’s when we jumped in to help kickstart the electric car revolution in Britain.

“And that’s going pretty well: today there are over 40 models to choose from and 64,000 plug-ins on the road. The Electric Highway itself comprises almost 300 electricity pumps – of the fast charging variety.”

The move renders it almost pointless to charge plug-in hybrid vehicles at motorway service stations – a significant change as more manufacturers introduce plug-in hybrid cars. Hyundai launched its new Ioniq this week – with a plug-in hybrid version set to follow next year.

Drivers of electric cars, which rely solely on being charged regularly, may have no choice but to pay the £5 fee to complete long journeys. They will still be able to charge at home and at public (non-Ecotricity) chargers, and Tesla drivers will continue to use the company’s supercharger network at no cost.

A 24kWh Nissan Leaf will be able to cover roughly 75 miles from a £5 20 minute Ecotricity charge. In a petrol-powered car, that would equate roughly to 75.0mpg, meaning EV drivers will generally continue to be better off than those driving petrol or diesel cars. This doesn’t take into consideration purchase or battery lease costs, however.

It comes as figures released today by the Department for Transport reveal that 45% of drivers are put off buying an electric car due to concerns over charging.

Ecotricity added: “The combination of more cars on the road and faster charging means we’re now delivering two million miles of clean driving each month – all powered from the wind and sun. That’s a great result. It’s also a growing cost. And to keep pace with demand, we need to build more electricity pumps – at existing and new locations.

“So the time has come for us to charge – for charging. We’ve taken a lot of feedback from EV drivers in order to arrive at the right pricing model. We’ve decided that a simple flat fee of a fiver for a 20 minute fast charge strikes the right balance.”

EV drivers who wish to continue to use the Ecotricity stations will have to download the company’s mobile app, which will show available chargers and allow them to pay online.

The ‘pay-for’ system is being rolled out across the network from Monday 11 July, and is expected to be completed by Friday 5 August.

Update: 11.07.16

Speaking on Radio 4’s You and Yours, Ecotricity boss Dale Vince said: “Following reaction from our customers, over the weekend Ecotricity has decided to provide a 30 minute charge for £6. This is following feedback from drivers of plug-in hybrids who say they can get a full charge in half an hour.”

Charging for charging: reaction

We contacted Mitsubishi Motors UK managing director Lance Bradley for his thoughts on the change. He responded that he was ‘disappointed’.

And he’s not the only one. A number of Twitter users are frustrated by the announcement, with some even considering cancelling their electric car orders.

Electric charging points close to overtaking petrol stations in Scotland

Scotland to soon have more electric car chargers than petrol stations

Electric charging points close to overtaking petrol stations in Scotland

The number of public electric car chargers in Scotland is rocketing – and could overtake the declining number of independent petrol stations in the near future.

That’s according to The Scotsman, which reports there are more than 550 charging points across the country, while non-supermarket petrol stations have dropped below 700.

It comes as the Petrol Retailers Association warns that a third of independent petrol stations in Scotland – many located in rural areas – have closed.

Yet the number of rapid electric car chargers has doubled in the last year to 150.

The area of Torridon in the Western Highlands of Scotland is now bereft of petrol stations – but does have electric car chargers available for public use.

The Torridon hotel has a regular charger available for any driver to use free of charge, while guests can make use of two Tesla Superchargers.

Co-owner Dan Rose-Bristow told the Scotsman: “We stopped selling petrol around 10 years ago as the price was too prohibitive and maintenance of the equipment was too expensive.

“We have seen good use of the chargers and a very positive response.”

Transport Scotland has previously said it wants to rid the country of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2050. Last year, 1,278 electric cars were sold in Scotland – more than in the previous four combined.

Cerys Matthews records song entirely in electric cars

Cerys Matthews records song entirely inside electric cars

Cerys Matthews records song entirely in electric cars

In a bid to find somewhere silent to record her new single (and push an eco-friendly message in the process), Cerys Matthews has used a collection of plug-in and electric vehicles.

Backed by the Government and the Go Ultra Low campaign, the Welsh artist and her band recorded the Bossa Nova-inspired tune while on the move in four cars that were turned into mini recording studios.

The songs were recorded while the vehicles were being driven around the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. The cars used were a BMW 225xe, Kia Soul EV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Nissan e-NV200 Combi.

Cerys Matthews said: “I want my family to live a greener life, and electric cars give us the opportunity to do that. What was surprising when we drove one was that it’s actually a much more enjoyable ride for the driver and passengers, no more having to shout (or sing!) above the engine noise – it’s a more relaxing experience.

“The inspiration for the song Float On Down To Monte Carlo is the idea of being taken away from noisy and complicated everyday life to a place where you can hear yourself think and dream. I’m so keen to share the experience that I’ve hired six electric cars to ferry people to and from my ‘Good Life Festival’ in September.”

Cerys Matthews’ Good Life Festival

The video sees Cerys and her band undertake a ‘journey’ from noisy towns and cities to a tranquil countryside setting.

Head of Go Ultra Low, Poppy Welch, added: “A quiet, peaceful ride is one of the best things about driving an electric car. Combined with compelling financial savings and zero tailpipe emissions, it’s no wonder British motorists are turning to electric cars in record numbers.”

Video: watch Cerys Matthews’ new song performed in EVs

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