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UK launches world’s first electric car charging network

by Andrew Moir

Electric cars represent the promise of a green and cheap automotive future. However these vehicles seem to have existed as nothing more than potential for decades. The technology has remained expensive and the infrastructure has never existed to support it. Now green energy company Ecotricity has stepped in to start an electric revolution.

At best an electric car has always been a city vehicle. While it is a constantly evolving technology, there is still the problem of range, especially if the only local charging point is at your own home. Now Ecotricity has installed 12 charging stations across the UK motorway network at Welcome Break service stations. There are plans to expand this to every station in the chain over the next 18 months.

As petrol and diesel costs are on the rise, consumers might be interested to know that a charge is completely free. All electricity is generated by Ecotricity’s wind and solar parks located across the UK. In order to access the service users will need to register for a free swipe card.

Traditional 13A electric cars can take up to 12 hours to charge but new rapid recharge technology allows a 32A supply to fully charge a vehicle in just two hours and can achieve a useful top up in just 20 minutes. It is expected that with new battery technology the charging time and range of the vehicles can be even further improved, with upgrades available for cars already on the road.

There are 28m cars on Britain’s roads but just 2,000 of those are electric. It is hoped that with the new infrastructure in place there will be an increased demand, as consumers start to view electric vehicles as a viable alternative to petrol and diesel cars. If car manufacturers sense a change in attitudes then the technology will rapidly improve and, as manufacturing moves to an industrial scale, prices will fall.

Despite the added cost of purchasing an electric car, they are currently are exempt from road tax and the UK government is offering subsidies of up £5000 in order to tempt drivers into joining the green revolution.

Do you think the electric car will ever become standard? Do other technologies offer a better alternative? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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