Brookhouse Group is one of the biggest landlords of out-of-town retail parks in the UK and the chances are that wherever you are in the country, you're not far from one of their properties. For example, their portfolio of tenants includes brands such as Sainsbury's, Tesco, Argos, Aldi and M&S – all big names that attract a lot of footfall and traffic. In fact, annually around 18 million vehicles visit Brookhouse retail spaces, which make the partnership between it and Engenie the largest of its kind in the country.
The plan is to have Engenie's rapid chargers installed at ten retail outlets before the end of the year. At present, seven sites totalling 13 chargers are open to the public with three more sites to be completed in due course bringing the total available chargers to 17. All will be equipped with 50kW chargers.
Patrick Sherriff, Business Development Director at Engenie elaborated: “All the chargers are 50kW DC rapid chargers offering both CCS and CHAdeMO connectors, with a fast charging AC port on the side. The chargers can simultaneously charge two cars: one on DC and one on AC.”
At this rate around 80 miles will be added to an EV's range in just 30 minutes, however with the average shopping trip to a Brookhouse retail outlet being 73 minutes, plugging in for the duration of a visit would add more than 160 miles. The chances are that many EV owners will be able to leave with far more range than they arrived with.
The project is obviously good for the environment, too, with the partnership removing around 16 tonnes of NOx and 20,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year thanks to the direct benefit of EVs and also the fact that Engenie's chargers are supplied by 100 per cent renewable energy.
The project fits Engenie's business model of providing chargers at retail spaces – something which it believes helps improve the overall experience of owning an EV. Previously, Ian Johnston, CEO of Engenie, told us: “Whilst range anxiety has been resolved with bigger batteries, ‘experience anxiety’ is very real in 2020. Drivers will chose sites that offer amenities they can enjoy in comfortable surroundings.”
Mike Nuttall, Property Director at Brookhouse, is similarly positive about the impact on customer experience: “Customers will expect to be able to charge their vehicles wherever they shop, and our tenants will expect us to provide the infrastructure which enables them to do so. Engenie’s convenient, easy to use and rapid chargers provide the perfect solution to attract the rapidly growing number of EV driving customers to our sites.”
So far the true impact of the partnership between Brookhouse and Engenie has yet to be felt. Patrick Sherriff told us: “Several of the sites launched just before or during the Covid period, meaning it's difficult to assess normal usage. However, an established site like Meteor Shopping Park in Bournemouth, which launched on December 5 last year, sees at least two customers per day.”
What is almost certain is that the inevitable rush on retail in post-lockdown Britain will see retail parks become very busy, very quickly, and that should result in a big uplift in demand for EV charge points. What's more, Engenie's payment model means customers can use contactless payment rather than having to sign up or download an app, so they should prove popular.
“Many of our chargers are located near supermarkets which have continued to see customers during lockdown,” comments Sherriff. “However, we certainly expect the opening of the wider shops and restaurants to contribute to a boost in charger usage, along with greater numbers and lengths of journeys that drivers are increasingly undertaking.
“Our partnership is further proliferating easy-to-use charging infrastructure across the UK, enabling thousands of customers to top up their vehicles while they shop at their favourite retail outlets with the simple tap of a smartphone or contactless card.”
Currently, Engenie chargers are already available at the following locations: Meteor Shopping Park; Bournemouth; Canal Road, Bradford; Manchester Road Shopping Park, Stockport; Queens Shopping Park, Preston; Parsonage Retail Park, Leigh; Barnfield Retail Park, Chichester; Alexandra Retail Park, Oldham.
By the end of the year, chargers will also be available at North Quay Retail Park, Lowestoft; Cables Shopping Park, Prescot; Hamilton Shopping Park, Hamilton.