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Launch of POLAR nationwide EV charging network

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POLAR, the UK’s first nationwide electric vehicle charging network , has been launched by Chargemaster Plc, Europe’s leading provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

POLAR’s membership scheme allows EV drivers to charge wherever they are – including at home, with a home charging unit costing just £95.

Membership of the POLAR charging network costs between £19.50 and £39.50 per month, depending on the package chosen, and a payment of 90 pence each time a charging unit is used. This provides “fuel” for up to 100 miles of electric car driving compared with around £16 for 100 miles in a comparable petrol or diesel car.

Every location will enable cars to use the latest Type 2 connectors providing a 7 kW fast charge. All units are three phase 21 kW-ready, which will enable users to charge cars such as the new Renault range in about one hour. In addition around 20% of all POLAR charging bays will be designated to incorporate “wireless” charging in the future using inductive charging.

POLAR is entirely privately funded with no government or local authority financial support, and it is claimed that it will be the most comprehensive charging infrastructure in the world. Supported by the motoring industry and government, POLAR will bring the UK to the forefront of the global electric vehicle market.

POLAR’s membership scheme gives EV drivers the means to charge wherever they are. As EV users are more likely to charge their vehicles at home, the scheme provides its members with excellent home charging benefits including a subsidised high-tech Homecharge EV charging unit (£95 instead of £995) which is fully installed and safety checked as well as a special electricity tariff for EVs on domestic usage. It also includes access to POLAR’s public network of over 4,000 charging points; an iPhone / iPad app showing chargepoint locations and availability; and, a range of member benefits including discounts on parking, hotels and restaurants.

The launch highlighted Chargemaster’s extensive partnerships which form the POLAR network to provide the UK with a high density EV charging infrastructure. These include Little Chef which recently announced its roll out of quick EV chargers across the UK using Chargemaster technology as well as Waitrose, NCP and Britannia Parking, amongst others.

Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Transport, spoke at the event alongside some of Chargemaster’s high profile partners such as Arup, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Nissan Electric Vehicles.

The roll out of POLAR will initially be in approximately 100 towns and cities across the UK providing 4,000 fully installed electric vehicle charging bays by the end of 2012. In each of the 100 towns and cities, POLAR will operate around 40 publicly available charging bays and this will provide a core strategic nationwide infrastructure enabling electric cars to be bought and used in many towns that previously were not practically equipped for electric cars. The 4,000 unit network has been designed to build on and complement the Government supported Plugged in Places (PiPs) programme which is focused on eight locations in the UK.

Every town with a POLAR charging network of 40 bays will be granted “EV Ready” status with a certificate presented to the local authority. This will enable the area to attract electric car manufacturers such as Renault, Nissan, Ford, Peugeot, Citroen, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Smart and Vauxhall which either have electric cars available now or will shortly be launching new models in their local showrooms. By creating the most comprehensive charging infrastructure in the world it is expected that motor manufacturers will increasingly use the UK as the launch markets for their new ultra low carbon car models.

The initial rollout over the first nine months will involve towns and cities around the country including Basingstoke, Bristol, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Cheltenham, Crawley, Derby, Eastbourne, Exeter, Gloucester, Guildford, High Wycombe, Maidenhead, Maidstone, Newbury, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, Rochester, Slough, Staines Southend-on-Sea, St. Albans, Southampton, Swansea, Swindon, Taunton, Telford, Warwick and Wokingham, amongst others.

The technology used in the POLAR network has been developed and manufactured by Chargemaster in the UK and is designed to cater for the very latest in EV charging developments. Every location will enable cars to use the latest Type 2 connectors providing a 7 kW fast charge. All units are three phase 21 kW ready which will enable users to charge cars such as the new Renault range in about one hour in the future. In addition around 20% of all POLAR charging bays will be designated to incorporate “wireless” charging in the future using inductive charging in conjunction with the Company’s partner Halo IPT.

Chargemaster has designed all of its charging units to be future proof ensuring that the infrastructure deployed will have a life of at least 15 years at which stage it is widely expected anticipated that there will be between 1m and 2 million electric cars in everyday use in the UK.

POLAR will conduct a free survey of the EV owner’s home wiring by a professional electrician followed with an installation of a Homecharge Unit as part of a home charging plus public network, which will give access to the wider network as well, or as a stand alone ‘home only’ solution. The unit can also be fitted at the workplace, making this a flexible and practical solution for EV users. Membership of the scheme costs between £19.50 and £39.50 per month, depending on the package chosen.

The average daily mileage for 80 per cent of the UK population is less than 30 miles, making EVs a perfect choice for many motorists. By 2020, it is widely expected that one in every ten cars in the UK will be an EV, with 20,000 EVs in use by as early as the end of 2013.

Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Today’s announcement by Chargemaster is exactly the kind of private-sector-led initiative that we need to drive the development of our national network of recharging infrastructure. It comes hot on the heels of our recent Plug-In Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy where we set out a range of steps to significantly improve the commercial case for infrastructure provision. It is good to see the government’s pump priming investment, delivered through the Plugged-In-Places programme, leading so quickly to private sector investment in public charging infrastructure.”

Olivier Paturet, General Manager of Nissan Electric Vehicles , commented:  “The launch of POLAR today clearly confirms the leadership position the UK has taken in the race towards the mass deployment of electric cars in Europe.  POLAR will demonstrate that an affordable domestic charger offer complemented by a dense national charging network are key factors towards the mass adoption of Electric Vehicle. Affordability and ease of access will convince more UK customers to adopt an EV and enjoy zero emission mobility. We congratulate Chargemaster on its investment in such a large scale and we also salute the fact that the charging network will be inter-operable.”

David Martell, Chief Executive of Chargemaster Plc, commented: “The launch of POLAR is an exciting step forward for the UK. Chargemaster is proud to be at the forefront of the sector, and with 4,000 charging bays across the UK by the end of 2012, we are striving to make low carbon motoring a viable choice for British motorists.”

Chargemaster is the premier supplier of electric vehicle charging solutions in the UK and Europe. Its partners and customers include TfL, Hertz, Enterprise Rentacar, Europcar, Little Chef, Waitrose, Asda, Sainsbury, SSE, British Gas, EDF, Vinci, East of England PiP and over 15 local authorities across the UK.