The Brookhouse Group is upgrading ten of its retail parks, entering into an agreement with Engenie to provide a pair of fast chargers, with contactless payment, at each location. Given that a useful recharge can take half an hour with most EVs, the new chargers need to be in the right location. Retail is ideal for that and we have a list of the new locations below.
Anyone who follows WhichEV on social media will know just how often arguments about range and practicality will flare up. Despite there now being more geographic locations you can go for an EV top-up than a tank of petrol, there are still a lot fewer charging points compared to fossil fuel pumps. That said, charging at home is something you just can't do with petrol or diesel.
In most cases, EV drivers will be heading off on a journey with a full battery and a decent range, having left their EV on charge overnight. But longer journeys or busier weekends can necessitate a recharge when you're out. Given that so many retail parks now have a selection of restaurants, they can be an ideal destination or stop-off point. How much you will pay per kWh will vary – more on Engenie's tariffs below.
Brookhouse retail parks offer stores like Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer as well as Argos. On average, Brookhouse tells us that a shopping trip takes 73 minutes. For your average electric vehicle, you could add up to 160 miles of range in that time.
While 17 rapid chargers might not seem that much, Brookhouse is only one part of a much larger planned roll-out from Engenie. Having picked up an investment of £24 million from Cube Infrastructure, Engenie is part-way into a programme that will see 2,000 new fast charging points up and running by 2024.
A combination of the pandemic lockdown, ongoing innovation in battery technology and the reduction of BiK to 0% has meant that a lot more people are now considering an electric vehicle for their next purchase. If the government's rumoured £6,000 scrappage scheme actually materialises, even more will jump on the EV bandwagon.
“The EV market is marching into the mainstream. Private companies are now seizing the EV investment opportunity and nearly 75% of car buyers are considering an EV as their next vehicle,” said Ian Johnston, the CEO of Engenie. “Those organisations offering public car parking can position themselves for the future by providing new value to customers and driving increased footfall by installing rapid chargers. The EV tipping point is coming.”
By the end of June 2020, these sites will have rapid charging available:-
- Meteor Shopping Park, Bournemouth
- Canal Road, Bradford
- Manchester Road Shopping Park, Stockport
- Queens Shopping Park, Preston
- Parsonage Retail Park, Leigh
- Barnfield Retail Park, Chichester
- Alexandra Retail Park, Oldham
In the coming months, another three retail parks will be upgraded:-
- North Quay Retail Park, Lowestoft
- Cables Shopping Park, Prescot
- Hamilton Shopping Park, Hamilton
Engenie is committed to providing power solely from renewable sources, as part of a long-term commitment to a low-carbon transport system and cleaner air.
Mike Nuttall, Property Director at Brookhouse said: “The way we travel is changing like never before and already we are seeing a wholesale shift towards electric mobility. Customers will expect to be able to charge their vehicles wherever they shop, and our tenants will expect us to provide the infrastructure which enables them to do so. Engenie’s convenient, easy to use and rapid chargers provide the perfect solution to attract the rapidly growing number of EV driving customers to our sites.”
The move from Brookhouse seems smart on a number of levels. More charging options could attract more customers and, at the same time, limitations to the existing grid could limit the speed at which rapid chargers can be deployed in the near future.
Our only real reservation is why Engenie have chosen to install 50kW chargers, when 100kW+ options are in plentiful supply, Tesla is moving toward 250kW and Ionity already has its first 350kW chargers in place. Engenie's choice means that an average EV will pick up 80 miles in 30 minutes, whereas a high-powered unit could give most cars an 80% charge in a similar time. Engenie's PAYG charge of 36p/kWh also means it is about the same as Ionity's network charge for registered/discounted customers, while the Ionity devices are rated seven times higher.
That to one side, this move by Brookhouse has to be applauded and encouraged. This kind of investment from the private sector will help make the UK an EV-friendly country, much quicker than through government grants alone. Let's hope that Brookhouse enforces restrictions on non-EVs parking in charging spots and prevents EVs staying way past their allotted times. There's likely to be a queue.