Petrol forecourts are switching to electric – as the demand for charging points increases. With sales of electric vehicles continuing to rise, a petrol forecourt in Hampshire is preparing for a plug-in future.
Electric vehicle charging company InstaVolt has installed two rapid charging stations on Lee-on-the-Solent Service Station. They’re the first public rapid EV chargers to be installed in Lee-on-the-Solent and will be able to take cars to 80% charge within just 30 minutes.
Oli Lodge, managing director of Rusdene Services, which owns and operates the petrol station, says the growth in electric vehicle sales has prompted him to adapt for the future.
“As a petrol forecourt, we didn’t want to bury our heads in the sand and wait until it was too late to adapt. It seems not a day goes by without another car manufacturer unveiling plans for new electric models and the Government is clearly backing EVs with plans to bans sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Adopting this technology early and providing rapid chargers will allow us to cater for the rising number of electric vehicle drivers on the South’s roads.”
The chargers have been installed for free by fellow Hampshire company InstaVolt. InstaVolt installs, owns and operates the chargers at no cost to Rusdene Services. It even pays Rusdene Services a rental income in return for leasing them space on which to house the chargers.
It’s welcome news for large fuel retailers and motorway services, which may soon need to install electric vehicle chargers on their premises under the new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.
Some forecourt owners have expressed concern about the cost implications, with a report by consultancy firm Rapleys indicating the cost to the industry could easily exceed £250 million.
Tim Payne, CEO of InstaVolt, says its work with The Rusdene BP station Lee-on-the-Solent is proof that forecourts don’t need to pay a penny to install EV chargers.
There’s good news for drivers too – the chargers at Lee-on-the-Solent will be available for electric vehicle drivers to use on a subscription free, pay-as-you-go basis. Motorists simply tap their contactless credit or debit card, charge-up and go. Users are charged only for the electricity they use on a per-unit basis. There is no connection fee, minimum charge or monthly subscription fee.
Payne said: “We see petrol forecourts as playing a very important role in the electric vehicle revolution in years to come. Far from becoming defunct as we go electric, we believe forecourts will evolve and provide the same service that they do today, just in a slightly different way. They’ll still be helping people top up and get back on the road. The only difference is motorists will be topping up with electricity instead of petrol or diesel.”
He added that forecourt operators could also see benefits from installing electric vehicle chargers on their sites from increased footfall as EV drivers actively sought out charging points.
The Lee-on-the-Solent Service Station is geared up to cater for EV drivers while their cars charge. The station has its own café, selling hot food and drinks, complete with seating and free Wi-Fi.
Oli Lodge said there were plans to install more rapid chargers at his other forecourts in the South. Rusdene owns and operates another five petrol stations, which will benefit from InstaVolt chargers in coming months.
“It’s been a really easy process installing them so we’re definitely looking to roll out more,” he said. “InstaVolt has taken care of everything from the planning and installation to footing the bill. Installing more really is an obvious choice for us.”