First ‘open’ electric vehicle network piloted in Suffolk


Charlie JardineImage copyright
Keith Mindham

Image caption

Charlie Jardine, chief executive of EO Charging, says the pilot could be extended

The UK’s first ‘fully open’ electric vehicle charging network could be rolled out nationwide if a Suffolk pilot is successful, says its founder.

Plug In Suffolk allows drivers to pay with their contactless card rather than being a member of a club or an app.

It is a partnership between charging point manufacturer EO Charging, Suffolk County Council and energy firm Bulb.

EO Charging founder Charlie Jardine said talks were already under way to extend the scheme elsewhere in the UK.

Four hundred charging points will be fitted over the next year at Suffolk car parks and businesses, which will rent the stations and then fix their own prices for drivers, creating a new way to earn money or attract customers.

‘As easy as buying groceries’

Mr Jardine said existing infrastructure was not convenient enough to encourage the mass nationwide adoption of electric vehicles.

“The Plug In Suffolk network will play a vital role in increasing the density of publicly available fast EV chargers and will ensure that driving electric in Suffolk is hassle-free,” he said.

“Charging should be as easy as buying groceries – simply tap and go.”

The project has started in Stowmarket-based EO Charging’s home county as Suffolk has a target of being the greenest county in the country. The authority will not invest money but will encourage businesses to sign up.

Image copyright
Keith Mindham

Image caption

From left, councillor Richard Rout, Richard Seppings of Anglia Car Charging, Charlie Jardine of EO Charging, and Peter Frost of Suffolk County Council

Discussions are already under way with other authorities “north, south, east and west”, said Mr Jardine.

“We’re having conversations about replicating the model and then we’ll roll it out as far and wide as we can,” he said.

Suffolk councillor Richard Rout, cabinet member for environment, said ensuring charging points were in the right places in a rural county was “a challenge”.

“We’re confident, however, that the ‘Plug In Suffolk’ network will be a solution for many plug-in drivers,” he added.

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