Fleet News

UK’s first privately funded EV charging network launched

Chargemaster has announced that it is to launch Polar in September 2011 which will be the UK’s first privately funded nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging network.

Its roll out of will initially be in approximately 100 towns and cities across the UK providing 4,000 fully installed electric vehicle charging bays by the end of 2012.

In each of the 100 towns and cities, Polar will operate around 40 publically available charging bays and this will provide a core strategic nationwide infrastructure enabling electric cars to be bought and used in many towns that previously were not practically equipped for electric cars.

The 4,000 unit network is designed to build on and complement the Government supported Plugged in Places (PiPs) programme which is focused on eight locations in the UK.

Polar will initially launch in over 50 towns outside the PiP regions over the next nine months. Chargemaster with the support of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) is working with each PiP to ensure interoperability for EV drivers right across the country, enabling them to access all charging facilities even when signed up to a different network.

Every town with a Polar charging network of 40 bays will be granted “EV Ready” status with a certificate presented to the local authority. This will enable the municipality to attract electric car manufacturers such as Renault, Nissan, Ford, Peugeot, Citroen, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Smart and Vauxhall which either have electric cars available now or will shortly be launching new models in their local showrooms.

By creating the most comprehensive charging infrastructure in the world it is expected that motor manufacturers will increasingly use the UK as the launch markets for their new ultra low carbon car models.

The initial rollout over the first nine months will involve towns and cities around the country including Basingstoke, Bristol, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Crawley, Derby, Eastbourne, Exeter, Gloucester, Guildford, High Wycombe, Maidenhead, Maidstone, Newbury, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, Rochester, Slough, Staines Southend-on-Sea, St. Albans, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon, Taunton, Telford, Warwick and Wokingham, amongst others.

Polar is entirely privately funded with no Government or local authority financial support. Access to the charging network will be by a small monthly membership subscription and a payment of 90 pence each time a charging unit is used.

David Martell, chief executive of Chargemaster said: “For the British consumer to feel comfortable with switching to EVs, it is plainly obvious that a targeted and comprehensive nationwide charging network is necessary. Whilst PIPs have provided a good start to this, in order to fulfil the anticipated demand and national coverage, we believe that the private sector needs to take a leading role in realising this objective.”

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