By Angela Rees
Free electric car charging points are now available to owners of plug-in cars as part of an initiative to encourage more motorists to go green.
With the Government offering grants for home charging points, a scheme by British Gas in partnership with Chargemaster will cover the rest of the expense, meaning anyone can have a free charging point installed at their home or even a friend or relative's house if they wish.
Although owning an electric vehicle (EV) doesn't come cheap, it is hoped this incentive will persuade more people to switch, as will falling prices of eco-cars such as the latest Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe.
And you don't have to be an existing British Gas customer to take advantage of the scheme. The energy supplier will install a 16-Amp wall-mounted and data-enabled charging box for anyone, which will allow owners to keep track of energy usage and programme the system to work only when electricity is at a cheaper overnight rate.
The deal also includes access to the Polar public recharging station network run by Chargemaster, whose 1,800 recharging points can be found in many UK cities.
Andreas Atkins, head of electric vehicle services at British Gas, said the offer is a milestone for the UK's electric vehicle market.
"The number of electric vehicles on the road is predicted to hit 1.5 million by 2020 and the Government funding scheme which makes this offer possible is doing a lot to help reduce the cost of owning an EV even further," he said.
"As the offer is open to anyone, it's a great time for the friends or family of EV drivers to install electric vehicle charge points at their homes. For example, if someone is making a regular journey to and from a relative's house then having a charge point at both destinations could be worthwhile."
David Martell, chief executive of Chargemaster, added: "Chargemaster is pleased to work with British Gas on this project. Providing free Homecharge units and free membership of Polar is a great opportunity for EV owners to get the most out of their electric motoring."