Gridserve’s Electric Forecourt®, the first service station in the UK entirely for electric vehicles, has opened near Braintree in Essex. Powered by renewable energy, with a host of conveniences and the ability to lease an EV on site, it’s intended as the first of 100 such sites to roll out across the country over the next five years.
The Forecourt boasts 36 rapid chargers which cover the whole range of electric cars, and even features “future-proof” chargers that can go up to 350KW – far beyond the needs of any current vehicle except possibly the Porsche Taycan. It’s also competitively priced at 24p/kwh, and will reportedly be even cheaper for subscribers to their future membership scheme.
Right now, though, you can drive up, plug in, and pay instantly with contactless. Then it’s just a matter of kicking back and enjoying the shiny on-site amenities. Along with the essentials – toilets and free WiFi – there’s also a Costa, WH Smith, Booths, Gourmade, and a post office to browse, as well as a kids’ play area, business meeting pods, and even a “wellbeing area” where you can counteract some of those sedentary hours on an electricity-generating exercise bike.
Gridserve Founder and CEO Toddington Harper told Fully Charged’s Robert Llewellyn that their aim isn’t just to remove one of the biggest roadblocks to adopting electricity – range and charging anxiety – but to make charging into a positive experience, both cheaper and more enjoyable than filling up an ICE car.
What we’re trying to do is … use the window of time that we have on this planet, while we’re in a position to do something about it, to do our very best to prevent runaway climate change. And to do that, people need to be the change.Toddington Harper
The site is powered by a network of hybrid solar farms which produces 10 GWh of energy a year, as well as on-site overheard solar panels and a 6 MWh battery for when the sun isn’t shining. (For perspective, that’s enough to power the average EV for 24,000 miles, so you’re probably covered.) They’re able to make income by selling excess energy back to the grid when demand isn’t high.
ICE drivers will be welcome too, with 24 bays available, and a broad range of EVs are on display at the on-site showroom for lease, with charging included in the price. Additionally, Gridserve have committed to planting 100 trees for every vehicle they lease, which they’ve calculated to be carbon-neutral.
Gridserve and Hitachi Capital UK Plc. are planning to roll out 100 more Electric Forecourt stations across the country over the next five years, with a £1 billion budget. That’s some seriously ambitious speed, but if successful, it would totally change the landscape of nationwide EV accessibility – not to mention cost, if prices stay as low.
Although turning the hallmark of mediocrity that is the service station into an actively enjoyable experience is probably a bit optimistic, what Gridserve are bringing is exactly what the electric movement needs: low-cost services that aren’t a headache to access. You have to admire them for walking the walk. So for those of us outside Essex, bring on the other 99!