The UK’s first multi-brand electric vehicle showroom – the Electric Vehicle (EV) Experience Centre, operated by Chargemaster – opens its doors in the Centre:MK shopping centre on Saturday 22 July. It will be run by a team of professionally-trained “EV gurus”, providing information and advice, and visitors will be able to test drive the latest electric cars.
Open seven days a week, the EV Experience Centre will educate visitors on the benefits of driving an EV, supporting Milton Keynes’ transformation into the UK’s first Go Ultra Low City. From impartial advice on specific models, government grants available, different types of plug-in vehicle and charging options, the centre will cover every aspect of EV ownership.
The role of the showroom’s 11 “EV gurus” is to educate, inform and advise visitors in a relaxed environment, with no sales pressure. The EV Experience centre is part of Milton Keynes Council’s Go Ultra Low City scheme, funded by government, and supports the town’s aim for electric vehicles to make up 23 per cent of all new car sales in the local area within five years.
Jesse Norman MP, Roads Minister said, “We awarded £9m to Milton Keynes to encourage the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles and it is great to see the city leading the way. There are now more than 100,000 ultra low emission vehicles on our roads, and it is our ambition that nearly every car and van in the UK is zero-emission by 2050.
“We want to retain our position as a global leader in the development, manufacture and use of ultra-low emission vehicles and have committed to invest more than £600m by 2020. Grants worth up to £4,500 are available off the price of new ultra-low emission cars, and I hope many more people will take up this offer.”
With support from six vehicle manufacturers as founding partners, the EV Experience Centre will initially showcase models from BMW i, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault and Volkswagen, with the option to test cars on local roads. In addition to expert advice on the different vehicle technologies, visitors will able to find out about local charging infrastructure, including the creation of two EV charging ‘hubs’ in Milton Keynes, free EV parking and grants for home and workplace charging.
The AA Trust, also a founding partner of the centre, has launched its new Drive Electric lessons, which will initially be run from the EV Experience Centre. The lessons have been designed by Drive Tech and will be delivered by AA instructors, to help drivers better understand electric vehicles, and how to get the best out of them when driving.
David Martell, Chief Executive of Chargemaster said, “The opening of the EV Experience Centre is a landmark moment for electric vehicles in the UK. The next five years will see the uptake of EVs ramp up, as a wider choice of models come to market, with improved range and greater desirability. The EV Experience Centre will provide a great opportunity for those interested in electric vehicles to find out more and test drive one, which we are confident will encourage even more consumers to buy electric cars.”
Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation at Milton Keynes Council said: “We are very proud to be one of the UK’s Go Ultra Low Cities, and we are putting the UK’s first EV Experience Centre at the very heart of our programme. We want to encourage and support as many drivers as possible to go electric, and the information, advice and test drives offered through the centre will help to show local consumers how easily an EV could fit into their lifestyle.”