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Tesla invests in UK electric car recharging infrastructure

By raccars Published

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US electric car maker, Tesla, is to invest in a series of supercharging stations on an ‘electric highway,’ running from Bristol and Dover to the M25 and stretching north on the M1. It is part of the company’s strategy to improve take up of its sporty Model S electric car. The company is hoping that a vastly improved range and shorter recharging times will also improve sales of the car. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, claims that the car can drive for 300 miles on a single charge and can then be boosted in just 20 minutes at one of the supercharging stations, to provide an additional 130 miles of range. This would raise the prospect of an electric car travelling from London to Edinburgh with just a single 20 minute stop for recharging.

The figures being claimed for the Model S are a substantial improvement on the typical range quoted for an electric car, which is usually around 100 miles. These cars then have to be recharged overnight before they can be used again. Such small ranges and long recharging times are seen as a major barrier to the uptake of electric cars. The ranges can also be substantially reduced by a number of factors, including low outside temperature and the use of electrical equipment in the car, such as infotainment systems and heaters. This uncertainty introduces ‘range anxiety’ which significantly reduces the appeal of the cars.

Rapid charging networks in the US are perhaps more advanced than those in the UK and charging stations run from Atlantic to Pacific coasts and also from Mexico to Canada. This availability is a key reason why the Tesla Model S is now one of the three top-selling luxury cars in California.

The motorway services at South Mimms on the junction of the A1 and M25 will be one of the first to see the introduction of a rapid charging station and the installation work is already underway. The stations will be free to use for Tesla drivers, while owners of other electric cars will have to pay a one-off access fee to use the recharging network. Elon Musk was appointed by the UK Government as the ‘electric car tsar,’ in an effort to improve demand after years of sales which have failed to meet expectations. Despite Government initiatives to drive sales, which include generous grants, new charging points and publicity campaigns, only 1,547 electric cars were sold in the UK in the first four months of this year.

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