Japanese technology giant Hitachi has invested several million pounds into British electric vehicle charging firm Gridserve as part of a move to speed up the mass adoption of EVs in the UK.
The ongoing investment, which so far stands at £5.6 million, will support the development of Gridserve's nationwide network of dedicated charging stations, with the first of its planned 100 sites set to open this summer. The two firms are also collaborating on plans for an electric bus network and financial incentives for EV buyers.
The first site to be built as part of the Gridserve's £1 billion scheme, near Braintree in Essex, will offer space for 24 vehicles to charge simultaneously at a rate of up to 350kW from its supercharger devices.
The company claims that customers will be able to charge within 20-30 minutes at first, but that waiting times will reduce as battery technology evolves. Currently, the only vehicle on sale that can charge at 350kW is the Porsche Taycan, with the Tesla Model 3’s 250kW compatability making it the second fastest.
Gridserve’s charging stations will be powered by a combination of roof-mounted solar panels, separate solar farms and integrated battery storage units, which, it claims, will ensure “carbon emission targets can be met, whilst also keeping prices low”.
Like a conventional motorway service station, the 2.5-acre Braintree facility, just off the A131, will contain a small supermarket, coffee shop and lounge area with wi-fi and meeting rooms.
It will also feature an ‘education centre for electric vehicles’ aimed at helping customers to “understand, test drive, and secure vehicles that are most suitable for them, with the ultimate aim of providing the confidence and support to transition to an all-electric future”.
Gridserve says it’s targeting locations that are near busy roads, towns, cities and major transport hubs for its charging stations. The firm hopes to have a nationwide network fully operational within the next five years, in line with the UK government’s bold plan to ban the sale of new combustion-engined cars by 2035.
The project has been partly funded by a £4.86m grant from Innovate UK, a government-backed agency that offers financial support to UK-based technology developers.