, 01 October 2012
Drivers travelling between London and Birmingham can now recharge their electric cars in 30 minutes at three new fast-charging points installed by Nissan and green energy company Ecotricity.
A half hour charge will fill up 80 per cent of most cars' batteries, giving drivers around another 80 miles of power.
The 50 kW DC chargers are powered by wind and solar electricity provided by Ecotricity and have been fitted in designated parking bays at three Welcome Break motorway services on the M25 at South Mimms, the M40 at Oxford, and the M42 at Hopwood Park.
Ecotricity has already installed standard charge points at 14 Welcome Break service stations and intends to fit them at all 27 of the companies' outlets by the end of 2013 to create an "electric highway" connecting London to Bristol and Exeter, and north to Birmingham, Manchester, and the Lake District.
The standard 13 Amp chargers take between eight and 10 hours to fill up a standard battery and will be phased out completely over the next couple of months and replaced by updated fast chargers of 32 Amps.
Drivers can apply to Ecotricity for a free swipecard to use the chargers, which the company said will remain free to use "for the foreseeable future".
Government grants of £5,000 off the price of a new electric car have failed to drive large-scale demand for the technology, with just over 1,700 models sold under the scheme from January 2011 to the end of June 2012. Although sales have picked up this year, surveys show many consumers are put off by high prices and the prospect of running out of battery, a phenomenon known as "range anxiety".