Gridserve has announced plans to create more than 100 Electric Forecourts, with the EV charging hubs designed to provide ultra-rapid units in similar configurations to a traditional petrol station.
The EV-only locations will typically feature up to 24 charging bays, and provide charging speeds as fast as 500 kW for cars and light commercial vehicles. There will also be high-powered charging options for buses and heavy goods vehicles.
The hubs will feature additional services such as a coffee shop, supermarket, and lounge with high-speed internet. There will also be education centres that allow visitors to find out more about electric vehicles.
Gridserve has already secured 80 sites next to main routes and near grid connections close to urban areas and major transport hubs. Where locations permit, the company will also build solar farms adjacent to the hubs, directly supplying the sites with energy.
A £1 billion programme will see Gridserve invest in grid infrastructure and solar energy capacity to keep charging prices competitive. It also allows a large number of EVs to charge at high power simultaneously, by utilising energy storage systems that charge up during off-peak times to cope with high demand.
The project brings together a number of companies, and is one of 11 programmes in a £5 billion portfolio of energy and infrastructure plans across the UK the Department for International Trade has selected to promote to global investors.
An app is being developed that will allow drivers to reserve charging slots, and pay for other on-site services such as car washing. It will also run customer loyalty schemes, with Road Miles rewarded for using on-site services.
As ranges increase due to larger capacity batteries installed in EVs, charging times are creeping up too. Higher-powered charge points can potentially reduce these charging times to just 10 minutes or so for an ultra-rapid charge, and the Electric Forecourt sites will be future proofed against developments.
The EV with the fastest charging capabilities currently is the Audi e-tron, which will accept up to 150 kW DC when connected to a compatible charger. The next stage of EV charging development comes with Porsche’s forthcoming Taycan, which is confirmed as being capable of charging at up to 350 kW.
Sites at York and Hull have already been confirmed and construction is underway for the solar farm and battery storage systems. Building of the Electric Forecourts is expected to start before the end of the year.
Toddington Harper, CEO and founder of Gridserve, said: “We plan to make charging electric vehicles as easy as using petrol stations. The latest generation of electric vehicles are awesome, and ready for mainstream adoption, but drivers still worry about if or where they can charge, how long it will take, and what it will cost.
“We plan to eliminate any range or charging anxiety by building a UK-wide network of customer-focussed, brand new Electric Forecourts® that will make it easier and cheaper to use an electric vehicle than a petrol or diesel alternative.
“Within five years we plan to have more than 100 Electric Forecourts® in use, with each supported by solar energy and battery storage. This infrastructure will accelerate the electric vehicle revolution, serve the grid, and help the UK meet climate and clean air targets. We are partnering with operators of fleet vehicles, developers, financiers of vehicles and infrastructure, EV manufacturers, retailers, local authorities, and others who share our vision.”