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Manchester goes electric with new network of Pod Centres

A great new network of Pod Centres and charge points will be launched across the Greater Manchester area this autumn. Manchester Electric is a collaboration between the MECC, Manchester Electric Car Company and several other partners. They will be launching 6 large pod centres and 300 charge points to help bring the electric vehicle, or EV, to Manchester.

Manchester Electric is a new state of the art network with pod centres where people can buy a wide range of electric vehicles such as vans, cars, bikes and scooters. There will also be centres where potential buyers can hire EV’s to try them out before they buy them. These centres will also house charge points and various shops. Visitors will be able to join an electric car club, and there will also be domestic appliances for sale.

These aren’t kettles or toasters however, these are also known as ‘smart charging systems; and enable drivers to charge their cars at home. The pod centres are situated in areas such as Manchester city centre, Manchester airport, MediacityUK, Stockport, Oldham and also the Trafford Centre. More Pod centres are planned and the locations yet to be revealed. The plan is for there to be 25 Pod centres in the near future.

The Pod centres staff will be trained to advise and educate drivers to the benefits of EV’s as well as selling and hiring them and offering after sales care. There will also be over 300 charge points where drivers can charge their EV’s quickly and easily. As a rough guide a 32amp fast charge point will fully charge an EV in 2-3 hours, and a rapid charge point will take only 30 minutes.

The programme to establish the network of charging points will be delivered over a two-year period. A consortium from Greater Manchester, led by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) secured £3.6million of support through the Government funded ‘Plugged In Places’ scheme.

This has been match funded by a private consortium led by MECC, a new private sector company, which will manage and deliver Manchester Electric along with its partners. MECC will help to accelerate the move of electric cars to mass market and provide users with all the information they need through the Pod Centres.

The scheme is sponsored by AGMA and the Greater Manchester Environment Commission.

Ron Stratton Chief Executive Officer of MECC, said: “Electric vehicles, from family cars to scooters or fleet vehicles, are going to transform the way we live and work. With new vehicles being released by major manufacturers, and with the cost of motoring continuing to rise, now is the time to switch over. The future is electric.

“These charging points and Pod Centres are just the start. I expect to oversee a tenfold increase in the number of charging points over the next few years.”

Chair of Greater Manchester Environment Commission, Cllr David Goddard, said: “With the assistance of the Government’s Plugged in Places scheme, we are going to see a first class charging network installed right across Greater Manchester. Studies show that a network such as this is the key to getting drivers, and fleet managers, to consider a switch to electric.

“This will also be a vital part of helping Greater Manchester hit its targets for reducing carbon emissions.”

The Committee on Climate Change – the Government’s climate advisors – says that the UK needs to have 1.7million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 if carbon reduction targets are to be met. Legally binding emission reduction targets are also in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34 per cent by 2020.

Greater Manchester is signed up to these reductions – a goal that can be reached with electrical vehicles in a pivotal role. EVs have zero emissions at point of use and have lower carbon emissions overall. These emissions can drop further still as electricity production decarbonises through an increase in low carbon generation.

MECC is working closely with AGMA to look at how the scheme will fit with public transport. A smart card is currently being developed which drivers will use to be able to access the charging points. It will also be an Oyster-style card that will be interoperable on public transport and EVs.

Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than motor vehicles and don’t have exhaust pipes, engine oil, head gasket or spark plugs – making them cheaper to maintain. EV owners will not have to pay road tax or congestion charges. Charging an electric vehicle is also much cheaper and far more economical to run than a fossil fuel run motor vehicle.

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