An electric vehicle owner who was excited to use the UK’s largest charging hub says it is a nightmare to find and no one knows it exists.
The mega-hub is located at the huge National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, which attracts thousands of people every day to a range of concerts, events and business meetings.
But many have no idea about the brand new multi-million pound website, which was launched by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last month.
A member of staff at the Hilton Hotel opposite said: “We don’t know anything about a new electric charging point at the NEC. Where is she?”
When The Sun Online visited the West Midlands site, we met electric car enthusiast Michael Lawlor, who was enjoying a quick snack at the on-site Starbucks cafe while quickly charging his vehicle.
Michael, from Brentwood, Essex, had stopped at the Energy base despite struggling to find the location on the sat-nav of his Kia EV6 – a car he bought 18 months ago for £52,000.
He said: “The location here is great but my satnav couldn’t find it, only Google Maps and we had to get off the motorway north to get there.”
The retired oil and gas industry explorer traveled from home with two companions for a fun weekend trip to Manchester to watch the Coronation Street tour.
He said: “It’s a great idea to have such a large electric vehicle charging station, but for people like us it’s a bit off the beaten track and we had trouble finding it.”
“This is what we need up and down highways across the country, not hidden away in one spot. We need more of it on the main routes.”
The EV super hub will be served by routes from the M1, M6 and M42 – where ongoing roadworks have caused chaos – and the A45, which will eventually become the new HS2 station.
The charging zone provides power to charge 200 vehicles simultaneously – 180 with a two-hour restart and 20 with super fast charging.
The sprawling, futuristic-looking site is located in the NEC’s east parking lot, but lacks signage.
An impressive new Starbucks cafe welcomes not only drivers charging their cars, but also anyone who wants to grab a drink and eat as they sit there or drive through.
Speaking to The Sun Online during a lunch break, barista Andrew Morrison said: “This hub is a positive change for the country and a step in the right direction for the future of green energy.”
“It makes sense to have it in a place like the NEC. If they can’t do it and make it a success, who can? It would be stupid not to try.”
“It’s still a business and they need to make money.”
Andrew, 29, not a driver himself, said: “They tested it to see how it went. It just opened a few weeks ago and it was a very, very slow start, but now more and more people are driving through and we have 100 cars a day here.
“People come and charge up their cars and usually pop in for a coffee and a bite to eat.
“Electric vehicle charging, the café and the drive-thru go hand in hand. I love working here and on a break and being able to sit outside and get away from the hustle and bustle.”
A Cardiff businessman, who enjoyed some refreshments during the charging process, said: “This is a fantastic venture. It’s phenomenal.”
The electronics wholesale expert told how he had traveled from Wales the previous evening to check into a hotel in preparation for a business flight from Birmingham the next day.
He explained: “Before the flight I had time to charge my car so I can keep it for my return journey home in a few days.”
When Mr Hunt opened the charging facility, he described it as “ground-breaking” and said the investment was “a significant step in rolling out our electric charging infrastructure across the country”.
He added: “This is the largest private investment in electric vehicle charging in the UK and a huge vote of confidence in the UK’s role as a leader in the green industry.”
After his visit, he tweeted: “I opened one of the largest electric vehicle charging stations in Europe at the NEC – important infrastructure we need as we move towards an electric future.”
NEC Group director Andrew Cole said the conference center campus, which sees seven million visitors a year, could now charge around 1,000 electric cars every 12-hour day.
The “Gigahub” was developed between the NEC, the independent charging infrastructure company EV Network, and BP Pulse, the site operator.
Akira Kirton, vice president of BP Pulse UK – owned by oil giant BP – said the company would invest up to £1 billion to accelerate the development of the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure by providing “the right charging speeds in the right locations”.
He promised: “We plan to deploy hundreds of hubs this decade in places where electric car drivers need them – in urban areas, on highways and highways, and in destinations such as restaurants, shopping centers and hotels.”
Reza Shaybani, co-founder and managing director of EV Network, warned that the UK’s existing network infrastructure was “a key bottleneck in the development of a future robust fast charging infrastructure”.
He added: “That’s why sites like the NEC are all about grid connection and proximity to electrical infrastructure.”
Read more at the Scottish Sun
This comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced he would delay the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars for five years until 2030 – a major victory for The Sun’s Give Us A Brake campaign.
He promised a “better and more proportionate way” to achieve net zero that does not penalize struggling families.