Gareth Huw Davies

Environment Blog / Green Technology

Oxford becomes Europe’s most electric car friendly city

The Leaf on launch day, 2012. Will it now start piling on the miles?

Two years ago today I attended the launch of the Nissan Leaf electric car in London. It was almost a year before the car was delivered in the UK , and even then 2011 did not remotely live up to the predictions government ministers made for it is the year of the electric vehicle (EV).


But on this rather important anniversary there are signs that the tide is beginning to turn for these clean, green Co2-reducing cars. This week (May 15)  Oxford was named the most electric car-friendly city in Europe, measure d by the number of EV charging points available.


A network of 64 charging points is being set up across the city and  immediate surroundings by Chargemaster as part of POLAR, the national, privately-funded, electric car charging infrastructure. 32 charging points  are already available.


Chargemaster intend POLAR to cover the 100 largest towns and cities in the UK by next year.


The Oxford charging stations will include new fast chargers, capable of charging  electric cars with the  appropriate equipment “in around 20 minutes.” Chargemaster  recently installed a Rapid Charge Unit in the Waitrose supermarket in  nearby Abingdon with the claim to top up an EV during a quick shopping visit.


A further 100 charging points are available within 40 minutes’ drive from Oxford, within the range of an electric car  setting out from the city. They are at locations such as as Silverstone race circuit, the Oxford Belfry hotel, Cheltenham and Warwick race courses and Milton Keynes and Bicester village shopping centres.


Oxford residents and  workers will have one post per 2500 people, overtaking Amsterdam and Paris to claim the title of the electric vehicle capital of Europe. This development, supported by Oxford city and county councils, and Oxford Brookes University should mean there will be more electric vehicle charging points in Oxford than petrol stations. Other UK cities with 30 or more chargers include  Milton Keynes, Newcastle, London and Bristol.


Quite soon Oxford people won’t actually need to own an electric car to enjoy zero-emission driving. Hertz On Demand, Hertz’s car sharing club are in discussions with Chargemaster to launch an electric vehicle (EV) car share scheme in Oxford.  The plan is that residents, visitors, and business people – and anybody else – will be able to reserve and drive a conveniently located electric  car by the hour, day or week from


Hourly rates will start from £5. Membership in Hertz On Demand is free.

Hertz plan to make ten Nissan LEAFs available in university campuses, street locations, station car parks, major employers’ car parks and other strategic locations across the city and surrounding areas. The cars will be recharged via the city’s POLAR charging network


Users will make  an online reservation, then receive an email confirmation and text message  telling them the car’s registration and location. The hirer will unlock the vehicle by swiping the membership device over the car’s radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader.