The UK is currently experiencing an EV charge point race for space, with over 100 new rapid chargers being installed each month. However up until recently, the achilles heel of the UK charging network has been motorway service stations. Ironically motorway services were some of the first locations to receive rapid charge points when Ecotricity started installing their ‘Electric Highway’ network back in 2011.
However there has been very little investment since the initial roll out and the Ecotricity chargers are now highly unreliable and in real need of an upgrade. This has meant that for the long cross-country EV journeys when drivers are most likely to need to use a rapid charger, the technology lets them down.
Two recent developments have kick-started this process. Firstly, as part of a Competition and Markets Authority study, the UK government indicated that they were looking to break up the ‘monopoly’ that Ecotricity has over affordable rapid charging at motorway service stations (excluding Tesla and Ionity installations). Following soon after this, Ecotricity and Gridserve announced a partnership to upgrade the entire Electric Highway charging network, with financial backing from Hitachi. Starting with replacement 50kW charge points and then adding larger arrays of up to 12 ultra-rapid 350kW chargers at each service area.
The first of these new ultra-rapid installations launched at the end of April at Rugby Moto services with 12 ultra-rapid charge points and 12 Tesla superchargers.
There have been several comments from Dale Vince (CEO of Ecotricity) and Toddington Harper (CEO of Gridserve) that the two companies are working hard to roll out the upgraded chargers by the autumn. This is obviously a key issue for UK EV drivers and so Voltonomics has trawled various planning permissions and online forums to try to map the progress of this rollout. We have created a live map of the current rollout progress to the best of our knowledge and you can search it below and here. This doesn’t include any Tesla or Ionity installations, but we have included the planned new Gridserve EV forecourts. You can tap on the map points for more details.
There are about 105 motorway services in the UK and of these, we have identified 2 with upgraded Electric Highway charge points (Rugby and Cherwell Valley) and 9 more that have recently had a planning application for ultra-rapid charge points. So at the moment only 10% of the network has planning permission submitted for the upgrade to 350kW charging. However it is unlikely that the Electric Highway will need planning permission to simply upgrade the existing Ecotricity chargers and so these are expected to roll out faster.
While most of the applications are from Moto and Electric Highway. The recent planning application at South Mimms services on the M25 is actually from ‘Welcome Break’ chain and the planning documents show Welcome Break branded Tritium charge points. This could mean that Welcome Break are looking to develop their own ultra-rapid charging offer, or it could simply just be the company submitting the application on behalf of the Electric Highway.
It’s exciting to see the rollout of a more modern motorway charging network and we plan to keep tracking these developments as they happen with our online map. But we need your help in keeping this map up to date, so please let us know of any developments that you spot in the comments below or contact us.