Top 50 Indie Rusdene Services has installed two public rapid EV chargers at its Lee-on-Solent Service Station in Gosport, Hampshire, as it prepares for the growth in electric vehicles on UK roads.

The chargers – the first in the area – were installed by fellow Hampshire company Instavolt, and will enable cars to charge up to 80 per cent within 30 minutes.

Oli Lodge, managing director of Rusdene Services, which owns and operates the petrol station in Broom Way, says the growth in electric vehicle sales has prompted him to adapt for the future, and plans are already under way for Instavolt to install electric charging across the company’s other five sites.

“As a petrol forecourt, we didn’t want to bury our heads in the sand and wait until it was too late to adapt. Electrification is coming, but at what pace no one knows. In the past few months, there’s been so much talk about it - it seems that not a day goes by without another car manufacturer unveiling plans for new electric models; and the Government is clearly backing EVs with plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Adopting this technology early and providing rapid chargers will allow us to cater for the rising number of electric vehicle drivers on the South’s roads.

“It puts us on the map, and lets our customers know we can cater for their needs should they buy an electric vehicle in future. From our point of view they just take up two car parking spaces. We’ve got the parking at most of the sites anyway, so it’s an additional service, without any hassle.”

In fact Oli was surprised at the speed of response to the chargers. Within a day or so of the installation, a handful of customers appeared – without any marketing of the service having been done whatsoever. He has also already had a good response since publicising the service via social media.

“Locally, customers like to see that we’re doing new things - that we’re investing in the business. Electric charging is the next ‘big thing’.”

The chargers were installed for free by InstaVolt which installs, owns and operates the chargers at no cost to Rusdene Services. It also pays Rusdene Services a rental income in return for leasing them space on which to house the chargers.

“Instavolt was a no-brainer from my point of view,” stresses Oli. “The company takes care of the whole process – the legals, the planning permission, the installation, the electric connection and 100% of the investment. Plus we get a rental income. That suits me - rather than a massively expensive installation, when the return probably from our point of view is going to be pretty slow to start with. The guys at Instavolt have handled everything. Installing more at our other sites really is an obvious choice for us.”

Tim Payne, CEO of InstaVolt, says its work with The Rusdene BP station Lee-on-the-Solent is proof that forecourts don’t need to pay a penny to install EV chargers.

The chargers at Lee-on-the-Solent will be available for electric vehicle drivers to use on a subscription free, pay-as-you-go basis. Motorists simply tap their contactless credit or debit card, charge-up and go. Users are charged only for the electricity they use on a per-unit basis. There is no connection fee, minimum charge or monthly subscription fee.

Payne said: “We see petrol forecourts as playing a very important role in the electric vehicle revolution in years to come. Far from becoming defunct as we go electric, we believe forecourts will evolve and provide the same service that they do today, just in a slightly different way. They’ll still be helping people top up and get back on the road. The only difference is motorists will be topping up with electricity instead of petrol or diesel.”

He adds that forecourt operators can also see benefits from installing electric vehicle chargers on their sites from increased footfall as EV drivers actively seek out charging points.

The Rusdene site is geared up to cater for EV drivers while their cars charge. The station has its own café, selling hot food and drinks, complete with seating and free Wi-Fi.