UK's First EV Only Forecourt Opens

The UK’s first electric forecourt allows 36 electric vehicles to be charged simultaneously whilst allowing drivers to to enjoy innovative station facilities and services.

The forecourt opened this week near Braintree, Essex, representing a breakthrough for the mass expansion of the UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Gridserve, the clean energy firm behind the project, said it plans to open more than 100 of the charging stations across the UK over the next five years in a £1bn programme.

Its chargers use net zero-carbon energy by utilising solar power sourced from one of the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farms in Bedfordshire. The forecourt also has a battery that is capable of storing enough energy to drive 24,000 miles, and overhead solar canopies.

James Cleverly, minister of state and MP for Braintree, said: “Our government is committed to increasing the take-up of electric vehicles, to clean our air and enable us to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as quickly as possible, which is why we have just brought forward the ban on new petrol or diesel to 2030.”

It looks like Gridserve has got its timing pretty much spot on as research by the RAC, released this week, shows that sales of pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids accounted for 18,062 vehicles sold in the UK in November, comfortably outstripping diesel sales for the first time.

Todd Harper, founder and chief executive of Gridserve, said the forecourt is a major milestone in the company’s goal to “move the needle on climate change”. Adding "The British public needs to have confidence that the UK will have the charging infrastructure required for mass electric vehicle adoption well ahead of the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars."

“It’s our collective responsibility to prevent greenhouse gas emissions rising further, and electric vehicles powered by clean energy represent a large part of the solution,” he said.

“However, charging has to be simple and free of anxiety, which is why we’ve designed our electric forecourts entirely around the needs of drivers, updating the traditional petrol station model for a net-zero carbon world and delivering the confidence people need to make the switch to electric transport today.”

Claiming that Gridserve's new forecourt in Braintree was the most advanced facility of its type in the world, drivers will initially pay just 24p per kWh of energy, which is currently the lowest ultra-high power charging rates on the market today - meaning a typical charge from 20 per cent to 80 per cent costs under £10 for an average-size electric vehicle on the market today.

Whilst their vehicles are charging, drivers can make use of the facilities, which include a waiting lounge, free super-fast wifi, “high-end” washrooms, a children’s area, a wellbeing area with exercise bikes that generate electricity, and business meeting room pods. There is also retail space which includes branches of WHSmith, Costa Coffee, and a post office. And the top floor of the forecourt’s building showcases the latest electric vehicles while digitals screens help people learn about and source electric vehicles.

Gridserve obviously wants to urge drivers to switch to electric vehicles, so the forecourt is designed to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible, said the company.