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Car of the Year Awards 2022: Innovation Award
Our Innovation Award celebrates the tech feature or service that have moved the game on most in the last year...
Drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) can often feel like second-class citizens at service stations, having to queue up for a couple of units that are stashed wherever there’s a bit of space. Now, though, Gridserve is changing that, because it has created the first service station in the UK dedicated solely to EVs.
The site in Braintree, Essex, is called the Electric Forecourt and can handle the charging of up to 36 EVs at a time, so you’re unlikely to have to wait for a charger to become free. The site offers connections for every type of EV, so whether you drive an Audi or a Tesla, or even an electric motorbike or HGV, you’ll be able to hook up.
The chargers are fast, too; with 12 units able to deliver power at a rate of up to 350kW, topping up to 80% of battery capacity can take as little as 30 minutes if your car supports such rapid charging.
Of course, you’ll want something to do while you wait, and the Electric Forecourt offers amenities such as shopping, coffee shops and meeting rooms for businesses, and even a gym. The energy that powers the site is green, coming from solar power, and is stored in clever batteries to help keep costs low for users; you’ll pay a reasonable 30 pence per kilowatt hour of energy used.
Gridserve plans to build 100 Electric Forecourts around the UK before the end of 2026. Planning applications are under way for similar forecourts to the Braintree site in Bromborough, Nevendon, Plymouth and Stevenage, and Gridserve has also teamed up with Electric Highway to open a smaller-scale site at Rugby services on the M6 motorway.
Despite being faced with a plethora of new innovations and technologies this year, our judging panel unanimously voted the Electric Forecourt to win. And having tried it ourselves, it really is unmatched in making charging as easy and as stress-free as it should be.
2nd – BMW iX augmented reality technology and HUD
By superimposing sat-nav directions over a real-time image of the view in front of you, augmented reality technology can help to make sure you don’t get lost on your journey. And while we’ve seen this technology before, its application in the new BMW iX electric luxury SUV moves the game on; it’s so easy to use and offers such pinsharp graphics that you should never miss a turn again.
The iX also impresses with its head-up display, which puts the most relevant information – including the sat-nav map and your speed – right in your eyeline, helping you to avoid taking your attention away from the road.
3rd – Genesis, Hyundai and Kia Blindspot View Monitor
Blindspot View Monitor, from the Korean family of Genesis, Hyundai and Kia, helps to improve safety by complementing a car’s traditional mirrors with rear-facing cameras.
The system provides an expanded live view of the lane you’re indicating to move into, or can highlight cyclists or obstacles alongside that you might not have noticed, showing images on the digital instrument cluster, where they’re easy to see.