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London gets juiced up with new electric car charging stations
by Kathryn Robbins on May 27, 2011
Most drivers have a friendly neighborhood gas station, but what about electric car charging points? Chances are you’re more likely to find a one in your neighbor’s garage next to their shiny new Volt or Leaf than on Main Street. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, aims to make them as commonplace as gas stations with a plan to put an EV charging station within one mile of every resident.
Back in 2009, Johnson and the city started work on what would become “Source London,” a network of EV charging points in the capital. Users would pay about $160 for access to charging points throughout the city in places with high traffic such as supermarkets and city owned parking lots. EV owners simply swipe a smart card at any public point and begin juicing up their car. The system also allows participants to manage their accounts online and locate nearby charging stations.
Source London went live earlier this week, but many are questioning if this will really boost the adoption of EVs. Before the program, there were 250 charging points in the city; Source London currently has 150 points. That’s an honest increase, but many may find the low number may induce range anxiety. The city hopes to ramp up their EV infrastructure by adding a total of 1,300 charging points by 2013, a number that would be more than all of the gas stations in the capital.
EV owners may be rejoicing in the news about Source London, but this increase is nowhere near the promise Mayor Johnson made back in 2009. He said, "The time for simply talking about electric vehicles is over – we need real action on the ground to make the electric vehicle an easy choice for Londoners. I am today committing millions to install the infrastructure needed for when, in just a few years time, these vehicles become much more widely available." At the time, Johnson promised to build 25,000 charging points across London.
Austerity measures or budget cuts may be the root of the small scale expansion of Source London, but there still is one lingering question. As Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson pointed out, the operation hasn’t disclosed the source of energy for the charging points. If it’s anything other than renewable, the city is sending a dirty message to EV owners.