Motorists can start using a new electric vehicle (EV) charging hub in the heart of Bicester when it opens on Thursday (27 May) at Cherwell District Council’s Cattle Market car park.
The £5.2 million Park and Charge Oxfordshire programme is among the first of its kind in the UK and is being delivered by a consortium of local partners, including Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council. The Bicester site is the first of 24 council-owned car parks to have an EV charging hub installed this year under the scheme.
Motorists can park for free overnight and charge up using one of the 12 new ‘fast’ 7-22kw EV charging points, which will also provide much-needed battery top-ups to commuters and visitors during the daytime.
Supporting the creation of green infrastructure, using low-carbon, energy-positive technology is a core principle of the Bicester Garden Town project, with Bicester firm Zeta developing a state of the art charger for the scheme.
Zeta is leading the Park and Charge project and will also be running the EV charging service on behalf of the councils under the trading name EZ-Charge. Built with ease of use and reliability in mind, the chargers can be operated by contactless payment, making it simple for EV drivers to ‘tap and go’, with no membership required.
A series of events will are planned in the Cattle Market car park between 07 and 12 June to introduce residents to the scheme and provide EV test drive opportunities. See parkandchargeoxfordshire.co.uk for details.
By 2025, an estimated 25,000 battery electric vehicles will be driven on Oxfordshire’s roads. To meet the demand, a further 23 car parks have been selected for the project across Cherwell, West Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire, and the Vale of the White Horse. These will be rolled out later this year.
The Park and Charge Oxfordshire project has been awarded funding from Innovate UK as part of the government’s investment in British engineering to transform electric charging infrastructure. SSE Enterprise, Urban Integrated UK, the University of Oxford, West Oxfordshire District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, and the Vale of the White Horse District Council are also all supporting the scheme.
Llewelyn Morgan, Head of Innovation at Oxfordshire County Council’s iHub, said: “Interest in electric vehicle ownership is increasing in the county, but one factor holding people back is the inability to easily charge them outside their home, with about 35 per cent of residents having no access to off-street parking. Park and Charge Oxfordshire offer an alternative solution by allowing residents to park for free overnight in council-owned car parks with access to top of the range electric charging points.
“Oxfordshire County Council is committed to going carbon neutral as an authority by 2030 and helping the county to go zero-carbon by 2050 – if not sooner. Innovative schemes like this one will help create the infrastructure that will make it easier for people to make changes to their lifestyles.”
Councillor Dan Sames, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Clean and Green, said: “Bicester is the ideal place to pilot the Park and Charge Oxfordshire scheme. As a garden town, it is home to a number of innovative green tech companies developing cutting edge, sustainable solutions to the climate emergency. It is only by working together with businesses and residents that we will be able to hit our ambitious goal of being zero carbon as a district by 2030. Creating a good electrical charging infrastructure is an essential part of that strategy.”
EZ-Charge CEO Phil Shadbolt, OBE, said: “We are really proud and excited to see our innovative EV chargers finally go live to the public this week – having designed and manufactured them in our Bicester factory. It’s a big moment for us! We hope that the public have a fantastic experience charging in the new Park and Charge hubs, and that having so many reliable and easy to use chargers here in Oxfordshire encourages more residents to make the shift to EV this year.”