Milton Keynes announces £2.3m EV charging infrastructure expansion
One of the four UK cities set to act as a pioneer of green vehicle technology has agreed a new £2.3m contract to "significantly expand" the public charging network for electric vehicles (EVs) in the area.
Milton Keynes was named alongside London, Bristol and Nottingham as a Go Ultra Low City and received £9m in January this year to introduce an array of green vehicle technologies and innovations. Late last week (8 December), the city council revealed that £2.3m will be issued to the UK’s largest provider of EV charging infrastructure, Chargemaster, to install a variety of units across the area.
The funding will ensure the creation of two filling-station-style EV charging hubs located near Junction 14 of the M1 and near the Centre:MK shopping centre. Additionally, 50 public chargers will be installed across sports facilities, hotels and restaurants and 200 on-street charging units will be created, while 20 EV chargers will be supplied by Charegemaster to support 30 bays for EV club vehicles.
Milton Keynes Council’s head of transport innovation Brian Matthews said: “We were delighted to be chosen to be a part of the Go Ultra Low Cities programme earlier this year. Chargemaster submitted a compelling and informative bid, which aligned with our goals. It could also demonstrate that the reliability of its network and the operational support it offers is second to none. We expect the first charging points to be rolled out in early 2017, making Milton Keynes an even better place to own an EV”.
Chargemaster is already responsible for the operation of 170 standard and 56 rapid charging points in Milton Keynes, and the extra units scheduled for 2017 will aim to account for vehicles owners who don’t have access to off-street parking. The 50 units installed across private business properties can be used for charging for more than one hour.
As part of the new contract, the company will install charging points in the proposed EV Experience Centre, set to be launched next year, in the Centre:MK. The Experience Centre will act as a educational facility to enlighten shoppers on how to operate EVs and will include a “try before you buy” range of EVs to choose from.
The customisation and connectivity potential of EVs is creating huge opportunities for the ICT industry, which telecoms giant BT has already made steps to tap into. The firm has partnered with Milton Keynes City Council to establish a data-informed parking system that has helped ease congestion in the area and could save the city £105m when fully deployed.
Using Machine to Machine (M2M) technlogy, BT fitted studs to the tarmac alongside parking spaces, which send real-time information through the network to show which car spaces are filling up or emptying – reducing idling time and greatly improving the parking experience for drivers in Milton Keynes.
The aforementioned Go Ultra Low Cities initiative is part of a wider £600m investment to improve the UK’s air quality by 2020 and achieve the Government’s goal of ensuring that every new car or van introduced in the UK by 2040 is an ultra-low emission vehicle. The low emissions goal of 2020 is also supported through a £400m plug-in car grant, which was recently extended.