DRIVERS of electric taxis can now get free charging in Bromsgrove and the public can also boost their vehicles after ENGIE unveiled its first ‘contactless charging point’ in the country.
The latest GeniePoint Network rapid charger – which has two points – was unveiled on Tuesday at the Windsor Street Car Park and comes about through a partnership between ENGIE and Bromsgrove District Council.
To support Bromsgrove’s Ultra Low Emissions Strategy, the EV (Electric Vehicle) charging network in the district will have 13 machines in place when it is completed.
The rollout is thanks to £300,000 funding awarded to the district council from the Governments’ Ultra Low Emission Taxi Infrastructure Scheme.
The district council’s registered taxi drivers will be able to charge their EVs free for the first year with substantial discounts for the next nine years.
It is hoped the move will encourage more motorists to make the switch to electric as insufficient public charging points locally, and nationally, has been one issue deterring drivers from ditching the diesel or petrol.
Support will also be offered to other businesses making the change to cleaner fuelled vehicles.
At Tuesday’s launch we spoke to Manos Passaris, the first taxi driver in Bromsgrove to go electric, and Peter Butler, another EV taxi driver.
Mr Passaris, who went electric in 2004, said the savings were amazing – he cut his fuel bill from £7,000 per year to £700 worth electricity.
Once the outlay for the EV has been made, other benefits include cheaper ‘all-in’ services for around £100-per-year and no road tax.
“It will make a huge difference to us as I usually have to go home to charge and now I don’t need to.”
Mr Butler said since he got his electric vehicle three-and-a-half years ago it had been a struggle to find chargers until this new point and two others in the district became available.
“It’s been an ongoing crusade led by Manos and luckily for us, the council got involved, the grant was awarded and this is going to be a great improvement for everyone in Bromsgrove.”
His car, an older model, only does 100 miles to a full charge and he previously had to go to Redditch to recharge which meant he’d lost ten per cent of his power by the time he got back.
The pair criticised the way chargers in other areas were all on different networks and they had to keep downloading different apps.
And it was not long until a paying public driver came to use the point.
Richard Horn, who lives between Cardiff and Newport, was in Bromsgrove to take his mum to a hospital appointment.
He agreed with the taxi drivers’ view about having to download apps all the time, adding he was happy to pay to charge and the contactless option made everything a lot simpler.
Dee Humphries, MD of ENGIE EV Solutions, said it would be the ‘first of many contactless machines on the GeniePoint Network’.
“Over the past year – despite the pandemic – we have seen the percentage of EV drivers increase from 1.6 per cent to in 2020 to 6.6 in 2021.
“And it’s important when people make the switch things like charging vehicles becomes easier.”
She added there had been a lot of interest with sales back up to pre-Covid levels, even though the country was still coming out of lockdown.
“A lot of businesses get in touch because they have heard about the savings which can be made.”
And she added, with the second hand electric vehicle market increasing and the introduction of Clean Air Zones in areas, including Birmingham, she expected interest to rise even further.
Judith Willis, head of service covering Bromsgrove District Council’s Climate Change processes, said she was very proud of the work done by officers and partners ENGIE and BMM Energy Solutions and it was a huge step towards implementing clean transport options.”
“The new installations mean you’ll never be too far away from a charger should you need it.”
Click here for more on ENGIE EV’s public sector services.