Drivers of electric vehicles can benefit from plug-in cars being more practical and usable than ever before thanks to the completion of a new 1,100km charging network installed across the British Isles by Rapid Charge Network, connecting thousands more drivers across the UK and Ireland to plug-in power.

The Network’s 74 state-of-the-art rapid chargers are capable of charging a typical electric vehicle’s battery to 80% in less than 30 minutes, making long-distance, cross-border journeys a more realistic prospect for EV drivers – and signalling the end to plug-in vehicles being restricted to towns and cities.

In addition to covering over 1,100km of popular motorways and dual carriageways, the Rapid Charge Network connects busy transport hubs such as airports and ferry ports to allow drivers to take their EVs beyond domestic borders and onto routes in mainland Europe.

At its extremities, the European Union and vehicle manufacturer-funded network stretches from Stranraer in Scotland to Suffolk in the East of England, from Hull in Yorkshire to Holyhead in north-west Wales, connecting with Belfast in Northern Ireland and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

Ben Fletcher, Electric Vehicle Product Manager at Groupe Renault UK, said: “Electric vehicle sales are rising strongly as vehicle technologies and the nationwide charging infrastructure take major strides forward, facilitating cost-effective local and long-distance motoring. Investments like the Rapid Charge Network are vital for maintaining the momentum and encouraging more motorists to go electric.”

According to research commissioned by the project and undertaken by Newcastle University, 72% of EV drivers are motivated to use rapid chargers to extend their vehicle’s range for longer journeys. The new Rapid Charge Network meets this demand, enabling motorists to drive further, faster.

The €7.4 million investment in the Rapid Charge Network was part-funded by the European Union’s Trans European Transport Network programme and by four major EV manufacturers: Nissan, BMW, Renault and Volkswagen alongside ESB, Ireland’s foremost energy company.ESB in Ireland and Ecotricity in the UK and are the network operators, providing power to all of the Rapid Charge Network charging stations.

The new Rapid Charge Network was implemented by Sunderland-based Zero Carbon Futures to meet increasing demand for public charge points and to encourage more motorists to make the switch to plug-in power.

A spokesperson from Volkswagen UK said: “We, and our electric vehicle customers, will welcome the development of a network of multi-standard charge points. Each charge point on the network is compatible with all standard EVs on sale today, taking away the element of confusion for drivers and providing reassurance that they can rapid charge regardless of make or model.”

The UK and Ireland Rapid Charge Network is part of a wider pan-European investment of €26.3 million that has been implemented in four regions:

  • Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bavaria, Zagreb (Central European Green Corridors)
  • France (Corri-Door)
  • Denmark, Sweden, Germany (Greening-NEAR)
  • UK and Ireland (Rapid Charge Network)

The European Union has targeted a 40% reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2030. The electrification of passenger vehicle transport is a crucial part of the strategy for achieving that goal, as well as reducing oil dependency and improving air quality in urban areas.

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