Schneider Electric and Engenie charge ahead with UK’s first rapid-charge network

Leading electric vehicle charging point operator, Engenie commenced the monumental rollout of the UK’s very first rapid charging network, as supplied by global energy management specialist, Schneider Electric, at the end of May.

In the first project of its kind in the UK, the EVlink™ rapid charge units will be installed nationwide over the next few months across Roadchef motorway service areas, covering the breadth and width of the country. The state-of-the-art charging points will allow drivers to fully recharge a depleted battery in as little as thirty minutes.  The first of these was switched on today at Roadchef’s Clacket Lane service area on the M25.

This project constitutes the most significant step forwarding the progression towards national electric vehicle mobility. Until this point, there have been major concerns over the inability of electric vehicles to travel long journey distances as well as worries over a lack of national charging infrastructure. Given that the majority of electric vehicle chargers in the UK require up to eight hours to fill an empty battery, it meant that driving an electric vehicle was severely restricted and  journeys over 100 miles  were practically impossible without an overnight stop.

Set to change all this, the project, which started in September 2011, saw Schneider Electric not only provide the high power 50kW DC chargers but also work closely with the operators Engenie during each step of the process, from the initial concept through to project managing the installation.

Making it even easier for drivers, the technology employs a pay-as-you-go philosophy as opposed to subscription-based operation, allowing drivers to only pay for the energy that  they need to put in their car.

Jeremy Littman, Managing Director of Engenie, said: “We are convinced that this will be one of the turning points which allows electric car ownership to go from a niche concern to a compromise-free alternative to petrol. To put it into context, a 30 minute rapid charge on one of Engenie’s charging stations can power an electric vehicle for over 100 miles, providing up to a 75% saving against a petrol equivalent so the payback period is rapid.

“Previously, if you wanted to make a long journey in an electric vehicle, you would face long charging periods of up to 8 hours. However, with a motorway-based network of chargers, this disadvantage is gone. We want to put the emphasis on the drivers’ needs and have designed and located the infrastructure with this in mind. ”

David Greaves, national business development manager for EV at Schneider Electric, said: “This is a major game changer. While for some time electric vehicle adoption has seemed a rather distant vision, this is a significant moment and one which will help make EV ownership a tangible reality for UK drivers.

“As fuel prices continue to soar, the cost benefits of EV adoption can be huge.

“With this in mind, these EVlink quick charging stations will enable electric vehicle owners all around the country to use their cars to drive the long distances without frequent multi-stops, helping to significantly reduce their carbon footprint while, in turn, achieving massive savings.

“As a business committed to energy management, this is just one of a number of charging installation projects we are working on, as we continue to be at the forefront in the development of the UK’s EV charging infrastructure.”

Michael Heaton, Roadchef’s Director of Commercial and Loss Prevention, said: “We’re proud to be the first chain of motorway service areas to offer this facility. Previously, many electric car owners attempting a long journey had to leave the motorway and take a detour into the centre of a nearby town if they wanted to charge their battery quickly. If the electric car is to become viable, it needs to be convenient, and bringing fast charges to the side of the motorway is a major step in this direction.”

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Schneider Electric and Engenie charge ahead with UK’s first rapid-charge network