► Goverment backs EVs in a big way
► And so does Google
► How to find your nearest EV charger
Tesco and Volkswagen have just unveiled a new partnership that should see 2400 new EV chargers popping up at 600 branches of the supermarket retailer. Over the next three years, both companies will work with Pod Point to introduce the chargers in selected Tesco Extra and Superstore car parks throughout the UK - and some of them will be free to use, too.
According to a post on Pod Point's website, the 2400 charger figure includes both 7kW fast chargers and 50kW rapic chargers – and the former will be free to use, although we’re not sure if that’s for all EV owners or just VW drivers. We’re told that the pricing for the 50kW rapids will be in line with market rates, but the split between 7kW and 50kW units hasn't been revealed yet.
So what’s the benefit of all this for Tesco, and VW? For Tesco the benefits are obvious. EV owners will be more likely to shop in Tesco compared to other stores if they’re able to trickle-charge for free while doing so, and it’s possible there could be some data collection in the future, too.
For VW the benefits are less clear. While increasing the amount of chargers benefits all EV owners, perhaps the marketing clout of being associated with this project will help VW from a branding point of view. What’s more, it’s possible that Tesco may offer some sort of reward for those with VW EVs.
All you need to know about EV charging in the UK
Advances in battery technology mean range is less of an issue than it used to be, but that doesn't stop you worrying about where and when you need to change your electric car. Although there are 13,000 public charging points in the UK – five times more than in 2011 – they’re still dramatically outnumbered by petrol stations. For many, infrastructure is still a stumbling block for many when it comes to buying a battery-powered car.
The state of play...
But it’s not all bad news. The number of charging stations around the UK and Europe is growing at a decent rate, and you’ll probably be surprised to find a good network of local charging stations near you – and along most routes you’re likely to take.
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What's more BP has just bought Chargemaster, in a move that’ll see the petrol station take over the UK’s largest public network of EV charging points. The new company will be called BP Chargemaster, and will include Chargemaster’s 6500 charging points along with BP’s existing 1200 service stations.
BP Chargemaster says the ‘development of convenient and innovative EV charging technologies’ is a key part of its ongoing mission, and with such a large foundation to build on, it’s certainly heading the right way. And because Chargemaster already sells domestic charging units, it’s you’ll eventually be installing BP Chargemaster products in your homes, too.
Alongside that revamped EV charging experience, BP also wants to roll out 150kW rapid chargers that’ll deliver 100 miles of range in around ten minutes - providing you have a compatible card, of course.
On this page we’ve explained how to look for the nearest electric car charging station, plus the best ways to plan your journey with an EV.
What's the government doing?
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has outlined new plans to increase the amount of electric chargers available to motorists, focusing especially on home and workplace powerpoints.
The new proposals explore the idea of installing charging points as standard in new homes and offices, but also suggest new street lighting could include charging points for off-street parking. Alongside those new building regulations, Grayling also outlines a further cash injection into the UK’s EV infrastructure.
According to Grayling, the new measures mean the UK would possess ‘one of the most comprehensive support packages for zero-emission vehicles in the world’. In his speech, he’ll also add that he wants, ‘the UK to become the best country in the world in which to develop and manufacture zero-emission vehicles.’
‘We welcome the government’s continued support for electric vehicles, which are already enabling zero-emission motoring for over 150,000 drivers in the UK,’ added the newly-merged Chargemaster chief executive David Martel.
‘We are very pleased to see the continued focus on supporting home charging, as well as an increase in the Workplace Charging Scheme, and a commitment to encourage the installation of charging infrastructure in new developments, which will cost less than retrofitting it in the future.’
How to find your nearest electric car charging station in 2018
Zap-Map is one of the most useful resources for any EV owner, and regardless of what electric car you’ve got, it’ll show a good deal of information. To find out your nearest electric charging station, head to this link and then type in your postcode. After that you’ll be shown a map with all your local EV charging stations, and each site is colour-coded depending on the type of charging on offer.
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What’s more, Zap-Map also has a community element - so you’ll be able to see any problems reported with chargers, too.
You can even use Google Maps
Google has revealed its Maps app will now help you locate nearby charging stations for your electric vehicle. Google has revealed searches for relevant key words such as ‘ev charging’ or ‘EV charging stations’ will now pull through relevant info for electric car chargers near you.
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What’s more, a card with the type of port, charging speeds and amount of ports will also be displayed, giving you all the info you need at a quick glance – as well as photos and reviews. So, pretty much what Zap-Map already does. What’s more, Google says it’s working with both Chargemaster, PodPoint and Tesla.
While this is a small update for the Google Maps app, it’ll make a huge difference to motorers. As more EVs join our roads, and more new cars integrate Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, the number of people using Google Maps to look for charging points will only increase.
It’s good news for EV or PHEV users, as it means they’ll no longer have to download any additional apps - but it’s very bad news for Zap-Map. After all, who wants to take on Google?
To get the new functionality on your smartphone, just update Google Maps app from the App Store or Play Store today.
How to plan a route with an electric car in 2018
Most modern EVs’ sat-nav systems actually include charging stops when planning a route – but if you’re keen to check your route before you get in the car, Zap-Map is also the best place to go. You’ll need to create an account first, but after that getting a suitable route is as easy as going to the route planner and entering your destination and starting point.
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The map will then show charging stations along the way, and you can drag a slider to show suitable charging plugs further afield if needed.
If you’ve got a Tesla, you’ll be able to use a more bespoke tool. Earlier this year, Elon Musk’s EV company launched a journey planner which helps you map out any route with your EV. Because the tool is specific to Tesla, it’s able to carefully calculate your route based on the range of your car – and it’ll also favour Tesla’s own speedier Supercharger network, too. You can try the tool out here.