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Gridserve completes Electric Highway upgrade project

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Gridserve Electric Highway

Gridserve has completed a comprehensive upgrade of the EV charging infrastructure that makes up the Electric Highway. 

The Electric Highway, for those not aware, is the EV charging network that can be found at many motorway service stations across the UK. This includes stations run by Extra, Moto, Roadchef, Welcome Break and Westmorland. In fact, the Electric Highway has somewhat of a monopoly on EV chargers at service stations in the UK. 

Earlier this year, the Competitions and Market Authority and Gridserve came to an agreement that would reduce Electric Highway’s monopoly on service stations. Under the agreement, Gridserve noted that it would be open to competition and reduced its exclusivity contracts with many of the major service station operators. 

However, if Gridserve hoped to compete with other networks opening on its patch, the Electric Highway would need a major upgrade. Thankfully, Gridserve has been upgrading the network that it purchased from Ecotricity just 10 months ago. In fact, the network has been completely overhauled with new, more reliable chargers. 

The Electric Highway was often criticised for being one of the most unreliable charger networks, often ranking bottom in consumer surveys. That’s likely to change now, thanks to this comprehensive upgrade program. 

Since June 2021, over 300 existing medium power Electric Highway chargers at over 130 motorway service areas have been replaced by Gridserve. These new chargers provide contactless card payment, 24-hour support and real-time status updates. 

In addition to upgrading the medium power chargers with updated technology, Gridserve is also continuing to roll out its rapid chargers as part of its High Power Electric Hubs. These hubs consist of six or more high power chargers, with the company currently operating three of these sites with a further nine under construction. 

The Swansea, Exeter and Burton-in-Kendal Electric Hubs offer chargers capable of speeds up to 350kW. The sites are on major arterial routes in South Wales, as well as the South West and North West of England, where 24 new chargers can deliver up to 100 miles of range in less than 10 minutes to those travelling to or passing through the locations.

Gridserve may have completed a major part of its upgrade program, but the company has committed to continuously update all of its charging stations to ensure they benefit from the latest technology. This is in stark contrast to Ecotricity’s ownership of the Electric Highway, which saw much of the network fall into disrepair. 

As an example of Gridserve’s commitment to the network, the company says that it will begin rolling out a dual charging feature on some of its medium power chargers, which will enable multiple connectors to be used at the same time on a single charger, doubling the number of cars that can charge at once at those locations.

Toddington Harper, Gridserve’s CEO, noted,  “As an early adopter of electric vehicles myself, the Electric Highway network played an essential role in enabling me to make the switch. However those days are long gone and Gridserve’s focus is delivering an EV charging network fit for purpose to support the mass-market transition to electric vehicles. 

“Following us commencing the upgrades in 2021, within a matter of months the Gridserve Electric Highway achieved the highest customer satisfaction rating in the network’s 10-year history in Zap-Map’s consumer survey. Headwinds caused by global supply chain issues, manufacturing and transportation delays, compounded with new contractual issues to work through, made completing our upgrade plans more challenging than we had initially anticipated, so we are really pleased to be able to celebrate this milestone today. 

“We’ve had great feedback from drivers on both the network upgrades and also on our new High Power Electric Hubs, which provide the best possible charging experience, and are already enabling more drivers to travel quickly and comfortably around the UK”.

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