The viability of electric cars is set to take a giant leap forward after energy giant EDF announced it is to install 250 recharging stations across the UK by April 2008.
The company is to join forces with recharging station manufacturer Elektromotive to provide the recharging stations, which it claims will make electric cars such as the G-Wiz and MEGA City more attractive propositions for urban commuters.
Calvey Taylor-Haw, managing director of Elektromotive, said the provision of a network of recharging stations would allow commuters without off-street parking to consider purchasing electric vehicles and also extend the cars' range.
"Electric cars already do about 40 miles per charge, so they are more than adequate for most urban journeys," said Taylor-Haw. "But this will introduce a real comfort factor for people as they know they will be able to recharge away from home. We see the stations as a way of extending the car's range into the suburbs, allowing people without off-street parking to recharge overnight and also allowing people with longer commutes to recharge while they're at work."
He added that around 200 of the charging stations, which provide a standard 240V charge, are expected to be deployed in London with a further 50 planned for other cities including Brighton and Sheffield.
Payment plans for the recharging stations are likely to vary from council to council with some planning to offer the service for free and others expected to charge. However, Taylor-Haw said that with most electric cars costing 1.3p to 1.5p per mile to run, costs would be minimal.
While the goal of the project is to kickstart a nationwide electric vehicle recharging infrastructure, Taylor-Haw accepted that "fast-charging" technologies that would allow recharging stations to deliver the convenience of petrol stations remain "a long way off".
However, he noted that the latest batteries could recharge up to 60 per cent of their capacity within two to three hours, making recharging while at work, the cinema or the supermarket viable.
The news comes as new research from EDF suggests the market for electric and hybrid cars is continuing to expand. The study from ICM Research predicted that Londoners alone will spend £1.2bn on green vehicles in the next year.
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