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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Engenie & Schneider charge ahead with UK’s first motorway rapid charge network

"Leading electric vehicle charging point operator, Engenie has today commenced the monumental rollout of the UK’s very first rapid charging network, as supplied by global energy management specialist, Schneider Electric."

http://www.engenie.co.uk/news/roadchef_launch/
 

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I am a huge sceptic and cycnic with regards to these large scale network announcements. There have been several over the past year that have amounted to very little.

Ecotricity was launched with an initial program of 11 or 12 and then a further roll out to all Welcome Breaks. The initial rollout was done then nothing. I have heard rumours that they are installing DC fast chargers now to all Welcome Breaks but again nothing so far of any certainty that will happen. Perhaps before that happens they should sort out there reliability issues with the existing network? Just a thought.

Little Chef teamed up with POLAR and Chargemaster announcing a major rollout of POLAR charge stations at their restaurants. First it was going to all be free, then we heard that they were POLAR but free for a while. The rollout started but again stalled after a few installations when Little Chef announced a program of restaurant closures and a business rationalisation. No one knows what is happening there.

Engenie announced recently that they are installing DC fast chargers into all RoadChef service areas. So far one is live on the M25. This is a start up company and I have seen nothing yet to convince me that they will be any different to all the others. I hope not but the evidence of the past year suggests that there is always a lot of PR and noice prior but little gets done.

POLAR announced their Home unit along with their network membership a year or so ago if I remember correctly. They too announce an ambition installation plan covering the entire country. They have installed quite a few slow charging units in the south-east and south but little elsewhere. Now they have relaunched with their PAYG service with free charging to March 2013 but with a £10 admin fee. They have also reaffirmed their commitment to install nationwide both slow and fast charging.

To me POLAR seem the most likely to succeed in the battle of the charging posts although there is no reason why there shouldn't be several players in differing locations so who knows, Engenie and Ecotricity may do well if they pull their figers out and get on with what their PR machine have announced.

I also think that there is a bit of an issue with reliability at the moment. These are early days and so I am not too concerned. They will get their procedures in place and we will have reliable networks I am certain of that but we should stop sniping at them and give them the space to learn. We need the support of the charging infrastructure suppliers. There is nothing to be gained from constantly getting at them. If they completely screw up, as I believe POLAR did with their initial high pricing, then we should shout, as we have regarding PAYG. But it seems to me that most of them are listening. Let's give them the space to see what they can deliver.

I support this Engenie initiative in as far as it looks like it could be of benefit to EV drivers but a few things worry me. The main one is that they have announced that they will only have DC fast charging at first. This means that Ampera owners won't benefit. I have written to Engenie asking why and also strongly recommending they install units with both DC and AC charging to allow us Ampera and the soon to be launched Renault Z.E. models, to use the network. It will cost them little extra. I urge all Ampera owners to also write and ask them to install AC charging as well as DC. There are DC charging units with an AC connector so it is little extra cost.

Should all these charging networks actully get installed it will help because more than anything else Electric Vehicles need a PR boost if they are to be taken seriously by the general public.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Paul Churchley said:
Ecotricity was launched with an initial program of 11 or 12 and then a further roll out to all Welcome Breaks. The initial rollout was done then nothing. I have heard rumours that they are installing DC fast chargers now to all Welcome Breaks but again nothing so far of any certainty that will happen. Perhaps before that happens they should sort out there reliability issues with the existing network? Just a thought.
"As I was leaving I saw a White Van Man pulling into the reserved EV spaces - sneaky little ICE'r. What did I do? I confronted him, that's what.

'Funny looking electric car you have there, mate.' I said, loud and proud. Ish.

But it all turned out for the best. He was there to start the process of installing a DC rapid charging station. Apparently 27 Welcome Break locations are having them installed by the end of the year.

With that good news I was off on my travels to my next stop."

1000 miles in an Ampera: Day 1
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Paul Churchley said:
They will get their procedures in place and we will have reliable networks I am certain of that but we should stop sniping at them and give them the space to learn.
In the EV charging space I would argue that reliability is critical for BEV drivers (less important for EREV drivers) and to-date none of the commercial companies have come close to offering a reliable service. There are numerous stories of Leaf drivers being stranded on the side of the road thanks to commercial charging network failures and you only have to read David Peilow's Littlechef (Polar) posts or the recent Ampera story to realise we have a very long way to go.

Personally I believe that EV network companies do respond to pressure and EV drivers need to sustain that pressure for them to improve. Take the softly, softly approach if you wish, but I'm willing to bet that the recent Polar announcements have more to do with pressure from Leaf owners on Leaf Talk than from the goodness of their corporate heart.

Please also don't lose sight of the fact that these are just plugs and sockets... I bet you all 120 Zero:Net sites are working today as are most of the caravan and marina locations across the UK. I also suspect most Ampera drivers have had no problems with 13A sockets.

Moderator Comment: Some comments of a personal nature have been redacted as they breach forum rules.
 

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you only have to read David Peilow's Littlechef (Polar) posts
To be fair, this was a Little Chef staff failure and not a Polar failure. I was told I needed to register the card to use it, I didn't. I should have tried it on the post there and then.

The Gatwick Pod Point situation was different though, as the posts actually appeared to be off when I got back to the airport after my trip, on the way to my taxi. I now have the Source London card but I still doubt I will use it there as the posts are in the short term car park which is a rip off, even for 1 day's parking. They should install in the long term parking.


To get back on topic, Engenie has Schneider Electric behind it, which is a huge company that has been on a big spending spree lately. I will be surprised if their roll out fizzles out.
 

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dpeilow said:
To get back on topic, Engenie has Schneider Electric behind it, which is a huge company that has been on a big spending spree lately. I will be surprised if their roll out fizzles out.
I think you could be right on that David. I too have spoken to the Schneider Electric people, they are a huge company in the electrical equipment supply arena and not used to being associated with failed projects... their reputation to some extent is also on the line here and like you I suspect they will ensure it is a success... just my opinion though ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
dpeilow said:
you only have to read David Peilow's Littlechef (Polar) posts
To be fair, this was a Little Chef staff failure and not a Polar failure. I was told I needed to register the card to use it, I didn't. I should have tried it on the post there and then.
I was making the point that "we have a very long way to go" and IMO your experience at both these locations are good examples of just how far... I couldn't have said it better myself;

I was told I could register over the internet, but at this point I thought "b****cks to this" and drove off. All this hassle for probably about 6 miles of charge. What a farce.
 

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Gents, let's keep this thread focused on Engenie and not wander off-topic please. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss the merits of other networks (that are more relevant to the Ampera) elsewhere on the forum.
 
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