Electric cars: latest news and initiatives for drivers

From a new electric vehicle forecourt to a public charging scheme and test drive initiative, it’s been a busy week for electric cars...

Ford mustang at Fordwich

A new electric car charging forecourt has been announced in Oxford; a suite of new public chargers is being installed around Kent, and Ford has taken Mustang Mach-Es to Britain’s smallest town so residents can try them out.

Those are the three latest examples of how companies are forging ahead with electric vehicle (EV) initiatives after a Public Accounts Committee report criticised the Government for its own lack of planning for the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars.

Ford took a fleet of Mach-Es to Fordham in Kent to let residents test out the electric vehicle (EV) in response to its own research showing that 79% of residents of small towns would not feel comfortable buying a pure electric car as their next vehicle if a petrol and diesel ban was introduced next week. 

Fordham is Britain's smallest town, with an adult population of 370 people. They have all now been offered the chance to take a two-hour test drive in the brand’s first purpose-built pure electric model. 

Ford Mustang at Fordwich

“People in rural areas are less open to switching to electric cars than those in cities, and a lot of the reticence is due to the fact that they’ve not seen an EV, so we’re offering them the chance to explore the cars first-hand," explained Lisa Brankin, Managing Director, Ford of Britain and Ireland. "It’s also an opportunity for people to find out more about electric cars in an unpressured environment.”  

Ford's research, taken from its Go Electric consumer sentiment report, revealed that just 55% of people living in small towns, villages and the countryside felt they had enough information to make an informed decision about buying an EV, compared with 85% of those living in cities, urban areas and large towns.

Charging was cited as a serious concern and a barrier to EV ownership in the report, with 63% of people in small towns and 74% of those in the countryside saying there are not enough charging points.

To make it easier for residents of Fordwich to switch to EVs, Ford’s electric charger installation partner, British Gas, fitted a public charger in the car park of The Fordwich Arms, a gastropub in the town. The 7.4kW unit will fully replenish a Mach-E’s batteries in around four hours. 

Oxford EV superhub

Oxford to get UK’s most powerful electric vehicle charging hub

The Energy Superhub Oxford will be open to the public in the autumn with 10 chargers providing 300kW of power. The hub will be situated at Redbridge Park and Ride, and will be expanded to eventually offer 38 fast and ultra-rapid chargers providing 100MW of power. 

In August 2021, Oxford will become the first UK city outside London to introduce a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ). The Energy Superhub aims to make it easier to charge up electric vehicles, helping to reduce air pollution. It is part of Oxford’s plan to become carbon-free by 2040. 

The hub is being built by a consortium of companies led by Pivot Power and Oxford City Council. It will be powered by 100% renewable energy, partly generated by its solar roof, and will use 100 ground source heat pumps to power a 50MW hybrid battery that will power the chargers and also put energy back into the National Grid at peak times. The Oxford hub is the first of 40 planned around the UK by Pivot Power. 

Connected kerb chargers

Boost to regional public charging

The Connected Kerb project is a new initiative that aims to bring public electric car chargers to out-of-town communities. Working with Kent County Council, its first installation will provide 40 chargers at 20 parish council locations around the county. All the income from the chargers will go to the local community or be used to support the introduction of more chargers.

Connected kerb charger

The project aims to rebalance accessibility to EV chargers. At present, more than 30% of the UK’s public charging network is in London, which has 63 public chargers per 100,000 people. In contrast, Gravesham in Kent has just 3.7 chargers per 100,000 people. 

“Access to charging infrastructure is one of the biggest barriers to the uptake of EVs,” said Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb. “Although demand for chargers is higher in dense urban areas, the lack of infrastructure in out-of-town communities leaves people concerned about switching to EVs. Nobody should be left behind by the EV revolution because of where they live; we need to end the EV charging postcode lottery.”

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