First ever electric forecourt at an international airport is a 'game-changing moment', says London Gatwick chief
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Gatwick has become the first international airport to open an Electric Forecourt®, a dedicated electric vehicle (EV) charging station, with the new GRIDSERVE facility available for all to use from last week.
The brand-new site has 30 high-power and low-power electric vehicle chargers available via contactless payment - ideal for passengers, staff, local residents, commuters, or business fleets - alongside high-speed Wi-Fi, a lounge area, Costa Coffee, Little Fresh convenience store and an interactive EV experience area.
All charging bays are powered by 100% net zero energy, with the fastest chargers capable of adding up to 100 miles of range in 10 minutes. Visitors can also speak to a GRIDSERVE EV Guru to gain advice on which EV may best suit their needs, and take the opportunity to test drive an EV.
And as the airport looks to get to Net Zero or ultra low emissions by 20230, this is a big step in that journey. Brownen Jones, development director at the airport, was delighted to see the new electric forecourt open too the public. “It’s a fantastic, game-changing moment for the whole village that is Gatwick,” she said. “We have people travelling into the airport, out of the airport, staff coming in and out, local residents, it’s such a strategic point to have a genuinely different way to how we power our vehicles.
“We are just off the M23, it’s easy to get in, it’s easy to get out, what could be more straightforward.”
But this is just the starting point for London Gatwick and Mrs Jones said there is a long way to go.
“For Gatwick ourselves, one of the things we have got to do is decarbonize our vehicle fleet. We have got 350-odd vehicles at the airport and we need to work our way through all of those by 2030 and transition them. Knowing we have got a means to power them is really, really important. We are going to be doing our own work as well but this gives that anchor point.
“One of our commitments is making sure 60% of people travelling to the airport are doing so in a Net Zero or ultra low emission fashion and this facility gives people the confidence to bring their electric vehicle to the airport and there will always be power here 24/7.”
As well as the 30 charging points, the facility has amenities for customers to relax with a drink, food, super-fast wifi and meeting rooms. Mrs Jones said: “Gridserve’s mission is to make a very different experience from buying petrol and diesel. I think we think of it as ‘it needs to be as good as’ but actually they are trying to make it better and this is a very different experience and something I think is genuinely game-changing.”
And could we see more electric charging points or forecourts going forward at Gatwick? “When you think about the petrol alternatives, there are two stations, one ion South and one in North terminal, so why wouldn’t we see that expand as the demand grows. It’s already been busy in the first few days it’s been open so it’s really exciting to see how quickly we can build that momentum.”
The Electric Forecourt has also been welcomed by local businesses and customers. Kevin O’Reilly, managing director of One Resourcing, recruitment partner for London Gatwick airport. He said it’s been a frustration in the past having to plan where you are going to charge your vehicle.
But this is made his job a lot easier. He told us: “As a local business we are at London Gatwick maybe two or three times a day and I have an electric vehicle and so do my team, so for us it’s going to be really beneficial to have a facility like this where we can come to the airport, meet our customers, meet our candidates, and while we do that we can charge our vehicles at the same time. It's an excellent opportunity for us and it’s a great facility. Part of Gatwick’s plan is to become carbon neutral by 2030 and I think this facility is going to help us reduce that and reach our targets.”
Nick Broom, CEO Preview Visual Communications Group, a local company serving nationwide vehicle fleets of all types including emergency services through to corporate commercial and do signage and graphics for all manner of installations
He said: “Quite simply this is a fantastic step forward and a great initiative by Gatwick. It gives us the facility now to charge our vehicle fleet en route to our customers, we are only 10 miles down the road.
"We have customers locally but we serve nationwide and there has been nothing else like this locally to be able to fast charge anything. The fact you can recharge yourself with the food and drink facilities here is an added bonus. I think it’s amazing.”
Daniel Topp and his family had just returned from a holiday in Cancun and we spoke to him as he charged is car in the new forecourt before driving back home to Wakefield in Yorkshire. He said: “It’s really convenient. I only had 50 or 60 miles left on the battery so I came straight out of the Long Stay and came straight into the forecourt. It’s really handy to have it here.
“I have only had an electric car since September and so far so good. I have had no range anxiety as yet.
“I think it’s what is right for the planet and I am big believer in electric and green energy. This Gridserve facility is 100% green energy so it ticks all the boxes.”