The Ecotricity Electric Highway was the world's first national EV charging infrastructure scheme. Created in the early 2010s by the green energy company Ecotricity, it offered early adopters of EV somewhere to plug in their 7 kW three-pin chargers to extend the range of their vehicle beyond the historical average of about 75 miles.

Over the decade since, maximum EV ranges have quadrupled, breaking through the 300-mile barrier. Charging technologies have evolved too, with dedicated EV charging connectors and ultra-rapid charge points offering 350 kW, and a 5-minute plug-in adding 100 miles of range.

All of this was noted in a June 2021 press release which announced the Electric Highway had been bought by GRIDSERVE, a sustainable energy-powered network that aims to create Electric Forecourts to charge EVs as quickly as possible with net-zero emissions.

 

What are Electric Forecourts?

GRIDSERVE's Electric Forecourts are the next evolution of the Ecotricity Electric Highway charging network. The plan is to enable EV recharging as fast as possible, using the highest-powered charge points currently available, all without producing any carbon emissions from the electricity supplied.

Following the acquisition in 2021, GRIDSERVE said they would invest heavily in the Electric Highway, replacing all outdated charge points with new high-power charging posts that accept contactless payment methods.

This had already begun at the time of the announcement. GRIDSERVE opened an 'Electric Hub' public charging facility in May 2021 at the flagship Moto Rugby motorway service station, providing a total of 12 charge points of 350 kW each.

 

Where are Electric Forecourts?

The first Electric Forecourt opened on the A131 near Braintree, Essex. By December 2021, GRIDSERVE had two new Electric Forecourts under construction, including one in Norwich and a world-first airport location at Gatwick.

At the same time, 11 Electric Hubs were being built at motorway locations, with that number planned to rise to 20 during 2022. Together, these Electric Hubs contained over 150 ultra-high-power charge posts capable of supplying 350 kW.

More than three-quarters of the old Ecotricity Electric Highway had been upgraded to more modern charging posts, with hardware ready to install across the remaining 25% of locations. The final upgrades were carried out in the first quarter of the new year, with confirmation coming in a press release on the Zap-Map website.

Zap-Map, which shows the location of charge points on major national and international networks, joined forces in September 2021 to provide directions and live data about GRIDSERVE's chargers, making it easier for drivers to find a zero-carbon GRIDSERVE charging station anywhere in the UK.

 

How much do GRIDSERVE charge points cost?

In May 2022, amid spiraling energy prices, GRIDSERVE announced an increase in their kWh unit costs across the network while stressing that charging an EV at their Electric Highway locations is still significantly cheaper than refueling an ICE vehicle for the equivalent journey.

Under the new pricing structure, customers wishing to use an Electric Highway charge point can expect to pay:

  • 39p per kWh for standalone low-power AC chargers
  • 45p per kWh for Electric Forecourts
  • 48p per kWh for medium-power chargers
  • 50p per kWh for high-power chargers

 

CEO and founder of GRIDSERVE Toddington Harper said: "We firmly believe that the lower cost of using electric vehicles vs petrol or diesel is a key motivator in encouraging people to make the switch.

"Whilst we are uplifting pricing for DC charging, our new pricing structure remains significantly less expensive vs fossil-fuelled vehicles, and amongst the most competitive and affordable on the market today when comparing equivalent charging speeds."

 

Get the GRIDSERVE Electric Highway App

There's currently a gap between the old Ecotricity App being phased out and the new GRIDSERVE Electric Highway App launching - although GRIDSERVE says an app is on the way.

An alternative is to download and install the Zap-Map app. It's available on the iOS App Store for Apple devices and also from Google Play for Android users.You can check the location of GRIDSERVE EV chargers using Zap-Map or directly on the GRIDSERVE Electric Highway website, which features a comprehensive nationwide map of Electric Highway charge points in the UK, which you can search using your current location to find a zero-carbon, ultra-rapid charge point near you.