Gridserve has opened (in partnership with Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC, Innovate UK and OZEV) its first massive electric car fast charging station and the UK's first "Electric Forecourt", near Braintree, Essex, along the A131.
This huge site gives us glimpses of how EV charging for long-distance travel may look like in the future.
The site is equipped with total of 36 stalls of several types, including:
- 350 kW DC fast chargers
- 90 kW DC fast chargers
- 22 kW AC (3-phase) charging points
- six Tesla Superchargers (we guess, the 250 kW V3 type)
That is not enough, so there are canopies and solar installations, as well as a 6 MWh battery energy storage. With a 5 MW grid connection, the site can also use solar electricity form nearby Gridserve's solar farm in Clay Hill.
"For example, on windy winter nights the battery can store enough energy to drive 24,000 miles in electric vehicles the following day, helping to maximise the value of renewable energy resources, stabilise the grid, and keep prices low."
The site is beautifully marked, so you can see 350 kW chargers in the middle, 90 kW chargers on the sides, a section for AC charging, Tesla Supercharging stations in the corner and even spaces for ICE cars, if they would like to come see the EV display inside.
The initial price for charging is very attractive - £0.24 per kWh (€0.26/$0.32), including VAT.
"Drivers charging at the Electric Forecourt® will initially pay just 24p per kWh of energy (including VAT), which is currently the lowest ultra-high power charging rates on the market today – meaning a typical charge from 20% to 80% costs under £10 for an average-size electric vehicle on the market today. To deliver additional flexibility GRIDSERVE also have plans to introduce a tiered pricing structure in the future."
Gridserve's station has everything one could need in such place, as the goal was "to make EV driving an enjoyable, ultra-convenient and stress-free experience". There is:
- a comprehensive retail space, operated by WHSmith, hosting “Best of British” brands including WHSmith, Costa Coffee, Booths, Post Office, and Gourmade
- a waiting lounge
- free superfast WiFi
- high-end washrooms
- dedicated kid's area
- wellbeing area with exercise bikes that generate electricity
- business meeting room pods
You can even see several new electric car models and lease some. The company promises to plant 100 trees for every electric vehicle leased through the service.
"GRIDSERVE and Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC plan to offer electric vehicles from all major vehicle manufacturers. At the time of launch, available brands include Audi, BMW, DS, Mercedes-benz, MG, Mini, Nissan, Renault, and Volkswagen."
Within the next five years (by the end of 2025), Gridserve would like to install over 100 Electric Forecourts in the UK, although not all of them will be equipped with all the bells and whistles like the EV display. The first one is simply a halo station.
Well, it looks like a dream compared to the fast-charging stations with a single 50 kW charger, without a roof or lights, less than 10 years ago. Is this the future of transportation within the next 10 or so years?