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UK’s first electric car charging forecourt opens

First of 100 planned electric car-only service areas has opened in Essex, offering 36 electric car chargers, plus shops, cafes and relaxation areas...

electric car service station

A new electric forecourt near Braintree, Essex aims to bring added convenience to electric car owners and make electric vehicle (EV) charging as simple and stress-free as using petrol stations. 

Instead of the rows of petrol and diesel pumps you find in conventional service stations, the electric forecourt, which is just off the A131, has 36 EV chargers, including six Tesla Superchargers. Twelve of the other chargers are capable of operating at up to 350kW, so they can add 200 miles of range to a car in as little as 20 minutes. 

If drivers need assistance with charging or technical information about their vehicle, there is a phone next to every charger, which can be used to call a dedicated helpline manned by EV experts from the AA.

While drivers are waiting for their cars to charge, they can relax and shop in the two-storey building on site. On the ground floor there are a number of shops and cafes, and on the first floor there’s an airport-style lounge, business meeting room pods and a wellbeing area. The facility has free superfast wi-fi. 

There's also an education centre attached to the main building where people can find out more about EVs and even buy or lease one. 

Electric vehicle service area

Toddington Harper, Founder and CEO of Gridserve, which is behind the project, said: “Charging has to be simple and free of anxiety, which is why we’ve designed our Electric Forecourts entirely around the needs of drivers, updating the traditional petrol station model for a net-zero carbon world and delivering the confidence people need to make the switch to electric transport today – a full decade ahead of the 2030 ban on (new) petrol and diesel cars.”

James Cleverly, Minister of State and MP for Braintree, added: "Gridserve’s Electric Forecourt is the most advanced charging facility in the world and is pioneering the world-class infrastructure required to support our policies and drive the confidence we need to make the move to sustainable transport in the UK.”

With forecourts sited close to highly populated areas or busy transport routes, the electric forecourt network will be powered by zero-carbon solar energy and battery storage projects. To achieve this, Gridserve is developing several large solar farms as part of a Sun-to-Wheel initiative that ensures that 100% of the electricity used at its forecourts is renewable and, from the grid’s perspective, sustainable, as they're also near high-capacity grid connections. 

The company owns the Clayhill Solar Farm in Bedfordshire, which provides the energy for the Braintree Electric Forecourt. The Braintree site is part of a £1bn programme to develop a UK-wide network of 100 or more Electric Forecourts over the next five years.

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