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Putting the UK on charge

Finding a place to charge your electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid is about to get easier in the UK. The Government wants to multiply the number of electric cars on UK roads to hundreds of thousands by 2020, and in order to achieve that, there needs to be a national charging infrastructure in place.

This will help address the main problem that electric vehicles pose at the moment. Due to their range limit – the distance they can travel before they need recharging – relatively few people have purchased electric vehicles as they are not always practical. The electric vehicle is a suitable choice for people who only drive around town, because they travel at low speeds and don’t produce any carbon dioxide emissions.

However, for those who want to travel greater distances at greater speeds, you need somewhere to recharge or a car that doesn’t need recharging! In this case, hybrids offer the perfect solution, as the electric motor that assists the engine is recharged through a process called regenerative braking. You can also fill up at the petrol pump anytime you choose, but you use less fuel as the electric motor takes on some of the engine’s work. Honda and Toyota were the first manufacturers to produce hybrid cars, but now most of the leading car manufacturers have at least one hybrid in their range.

In order for those with electric-only vehicles to travel longer distances they need somewhere to recharge. At the moment, there aren’t enough charging points available. The Government’s Plugged-in Places scheme encourages the setting up of charging points for use by the public across the country. As an example, by 2013, the Source East charging network will have 1200 charging points across the east of England. Drivers will pay an annual fee for unlimited access to any of the charging points within the Source East network.

Plug-in hybrids will be able to use the same charging points. Honda UK has plans to launch a plug-in hybrid in 2012, so there will soon be more of these on Britain’s roads. Plug-in hybrids will be able to travel some distances on electric power alone, making their fuel economy even greater than standard hybrids.

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