A new type of filling station will soon appear on the roadside in Sunderland – with rapid electric chargers in place of petrol pumps.
The North East Combined Authority (NECA) has been awarded £1.5million ‘Go Ultra Low’ development funding to help take forward the plans for new electric filling stations on the A19 in Sunderland and on the Science Central development in Newcastle .
Each filling station would feature 6-8 rapid chargers which top up electric vehicles in 15-20 minutes – rather than the eight hours it takes for a standard charger. An on-site café would provide a comfortable waiting area for drivers.
NECA made a bid to Office for Low Emission Vehicle’s (OLEV) £40million Go Ultra Low Scheme in October and, while the region missed out on one of the top four awards of around £10m, is one of four bidders to receive development funding.
The scheme is designed to reward cities that demonstrate the most potential to become internationally outstanding examples for the adoption of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.
Officials will now use the award to attract further investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to take forward plans for electric filling stations and other ‘ultra low vehicle’ projects across the North East.
Sunderland City Council leader Coun Paul Watson is NECA Economic and Regeneration Portfolio Holder: "With Nissan, Sunderland, and the North East region at the heart of UK research, development and the manufacture of electric vehicle technology, this grant and infrastructure work is very fitting.
"We’ve just seen Nissan’s latest announcement that it is investing more than £26.5m in battery production and this has helped secure many hundreds of jobs.
"Now, as more electric vehicles take to our highways, it’s good to see recognition through this grant that more infrastructure and support is being put in place. Drivers need the reassurances that the infrastructure is there and that is what we are now seeing. "
NECA Regional Transport Portfolio Holder Coun Nick Forbes added: “We made an ambitious bid to the Go Ultra Low City’ scheme and whilst its disappointing that we have not been awarded the Go Ultra Low City status - its great news that this development funding will help us showcase the filling stations of the future. This is the infrastructure that electric vehicle drivers need to make their journeys easier.
“We are seeing more and more people switching to electric vehicles in the North East and we have done a huge amount to make this a practical and viable choice by installing charging points across the region. These filling stations are the next generation of facilities we need to encourage more people to make the switch and choose a vehicle that will help reduce CO2 emissions and improve air quality.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “These Go Ultra Low Cities have proposed exciting, innovative ideas that will encourage drivers to choose an electric car. I want to see thousands more greener vehicles on our roads and I am proud to back this ambition with £40 million to help the UK become international pioneers of emission cutting technology.
“The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles and our long-term economic plan is investing £600 million by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2040.”
Poppy Welch, Head of Go Ultra Low said: “We’re excited to see the innovative Go Ultra Low ideas put forward become reality over the coming months. The £40 million investment by government, combined with funds from each winning area, will transform the roads for residents.
“With thousands more plug-in cars set to be sold, cutting running costs for motorists, boosting air quality, this investment will help to put the UK at the forefront of the global ultra low emissions race. Initiatives such as convenient public charging locations are sure to appeal to drivers and inspire other cities and local authorities to invest in the electric revolution.”