Cheshire East Council has secured government grant funding to provide electric vehicle recharging points for local road users – and potentially the Council's own fleet.
Electric vehicle (EV) technology is relatively new but the number of electric vehicles in the UK has risen in the last two years from 3,500 in 2013 to 15,500 in 2014 - and the expectation is for that figure to keep on growing and growing.
One of the biggest barriers to people taking up this technology is the lack of a public charging network and the Council receives regular enquiries about EV infrastructure.
The grant funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (Olev) will enable the Council to provide six 50kV rapid charging units – two each in car parks in Congleton (Princess Street), Wilmslow (South Drive) and Nantwich (Love Lane). The units will be operated by a third party.
These units can recharge a vehicle from ‘empty’ up to 80 per cent charge in as little as 20 minutes. The sites have been chosen as they are close to destination points such as supermarkets and coffee shops, where drivers can pass 20 minutes or so while waiting for their vehicle to charge.
Council Leader Michael Jones said: “This is good news for the environment and for encouraging modern, greener transport to flourish. It is also about thinking and acting innovatively – and about putting our local residents first and tackling issues at their root.
“This project allows residents to take up new ultra-low-emission vehicle technology with assurance that they will be able to recharge when away from home if needed. It's also a step towards cleaner air in our Borough.”
EV users will be able to check the status of the chargers using mobile phone apps or web links. There are already 563 publicly-funded rapid charge points in the UK – and these are the first in Cheshire East.
The Council also secured funding for five 7kV ‘fast charging’ units. These will primarily be installed on Council-owned sites to enable the authority to begin using EVs in its own fleet. They have been installed at Macclesfield Town Hall, the Council’s HQ at Westfields, Sandbach and Delamere House, Crewe.
There are also two fast chargers in the Library car park, in Crewe near the flagship Lifestyle Centre, and these will be made available to the public in due course.