Chargemaster is to set up and operate what the electric-vehicle infrastructure provider calls the U.K.’s first EV multibrand shopping-center showroom.
The town of Milton Keynes, 55 miles (90 km) northwest of London, awarded the contract for the center as part of £9 million ($11.2 million) in Go Ultra Low Cities funding given to encourage the uptake of low-emissions vehicles and hit a target of 23% of all U.K. car sales being electric or plug-in by 2021.
Chargemaster says the EV Experience Center will open this spring. A full-time expert has been named to run both the center and the wide-ranging initiatives promoting EV ownership.
Besides showcasing the latest EVs and technology, independent professionals will be on hand to answer visitors’ questions and refer them to local dealerships or leasing companies.
Milton Keynes residents and businesses also will be able to test-drive a range of vehicles on a short- or long-term basis. There will be 52 EVs available this year for residents to try before they buy. This will increase to 99 in the next five years.
Other initiatives in the Go Ultra Low Cities program include £2.3 million ($2.8 million) to be spent on additional Milton Keynes charging infrastructure, with Chargemaster setting up two filling-station-style EV rapid-charging hubs and 50 destination chargers across the town.
Chargemaster already operates 170 standard public chargers and 56 rapid chargers in Milton Keynes.
The EV Experience Center will offer free parking for ultra-low-emissions vehicles, as well as testing of the latest technologies such as inductive charging, to boost EV uptake.
Chargemaster CEO David Martell predicts the center will pave the way for other cities to follow.
Milton Keynes, London, Nottingham and Bristol each won a share of £40 million ($49.8 million) in funding from the Go Ultra Low Cities program.
Go Ultra Low, a government and industry body, says more than 100,000 EVs and plug-in hybrid-electric cars will be on U.K. roads by midyear, boosted by record 2016 sales of 36,907 units, up 29% from the prior year.
Go Ultra Low head Poppy Welch says the increasing selection of electric cars is playing a key role in the vehicles’ uptake, with more than 35 plug-in models available – four times the number on the market five years ago.