A network of 14 electric vehicle (EV) rapid chargers, forming Milton Keynes CrossLink, has been launched, four weeks ahead of schedule.
CrossLink is a Milton Keynes Council initiative and the charging units are sited at strategic locations connecting Cambridge and Bedford in the East with Milton Keynes and Cheltenham, Oxford and Buckingham with Milton Keynes to the South West.
The rapid chargers, supplied and operated by Chargemaster, are some of the first 'tri-standard' units in the UK, allowing EV drivers to charge their cars in approximately 20 minutes.
The 'tri-standard' charging points are designed to work with all the latest electric cars including the new BMW i3 and VW e-up!, the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Citroen C Zero, Peugeot Ion, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Model S, the first UK models of which arrive next month.
The network of charging points has been partly funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) under a Government scheme supporting the growth of ultra low emission vehicles and the respective charging network.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: "These charge points are the first of their kind in England, able to rapidly recharge a wide range of plug-in vehicles.
"The Government is committed to making the UK a leading market for ultra low emission vehicles and putting in place versatile and accessible infrastructure like this is an important part of making this happen."
Milton Keynes CrossLink is one of the first from this round of OLEV funding to be completed, and is one of a number of key initiatives being implemented by Milton Keynes Council to make the city a low-carbon and emission-free centre.
The network, which does not rely on any financial contribution from the rate payer, enables electric vehicle owners and operators to recharge their cars several times faster than conventional chargers and allows easy access to the Milton Keynes regional shopping centre and recreation facilities.
Virtually every car manufacturer is now bringing plug-in cars to market and it is widely expected that by 2020, one in 10 cars sold will be electric. This new network of rapid charging stations will help drivers using these cars to make a significant reduction to air pollution and carbon emissions.
Councillor Keith McLean, Milton Keynes Council Cabinet member for Transport said: "This is excellent news for local electric vehicle drivers and is another vital step to lowering our collective carbon footprint in line with the Council's low carbon strategy. We have enjoyed a very constructive relationship with Chargemaster Plc, a local company, for the last four years and we are pleased to be able to extend this partnership.
"The fact that Chargemaster be fully responsible for extending the network each year and for all the operating costs of the units rather than the council means that we can make valuable savings to the council budget. The city will get all the benefits of having a comprehensive network of charging points".
CrossLink rapid charger sites:
MK Bus Station, Elder Gate, Milton Keynes
Avebury Boulevard, Juntion with Lower 12th Street, Milton Keynes
Outside Xscape, Avebury Boulevard, Milton Keynes
Northfield Drive, Northfield, Milton Keynes
Silverstone Circuit Innovation Centre, Silverstone, Northants
Silverstone Circuit Wing, Silverstone, Northants
Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Gloucester
W. Ganderton, Swan Garage, 20 Bridge Street, Buckingham MK18 1AF
Oxford Belfry Hotel, Milton Common, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 2JW
Elms BMW, 4 Sheepfold Ln, Cambridge CB23 6EF
Cambridge Belfry Hotel, Back Ln, Great Cambourne, Cambridge CB23 6BW
Elms BMW, Clifton Parc, Caxton Rd, Bedford MK41 0GL
Picture caption: Councillor Keith McLean (left), Milton Keynes Council Cabinet member for Transport with David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster (right) at one of the new rapid chargers.