Britain Gets First On-Street Electric Car Chargers

A recent surge of environmental consciousness in Britain has put cars and pollution in the spotlight.

As part of a wider bid to encourage drivers to ditch gas-guzzling vehicles, Britain's first on-street charging points for electric cars were unveiled Dec. 6 in central London.

Electric cars are exempt from London's congestion charge, which costs drivers of other vehicles eight pounds (US$16) per day to enter the city center. "Putting free charging points on the street where people need them most is a simple concept which we hope will help galvanize broader appeal for electric car use," said councilor Alan Bradley. "There have been technical hurdles to overcome, but we're confident the future lies in offering alternatives to petrol and diesel vehicles."

Westminster City Council already has 48 free car-charging points in car parks but the new ones in Covent Garden are the first on-street facilities.

Sales are rising of electric vehicles, which produce no tailpipe emissions. About 750 G-Wiz cars have been sold so far in London -- a third of those in the last six months.

The new Daimler Chrysler Smart EV is expected to increase interest even further when it is launched next February.

A recent surge of environmental consciousness in Britain has put cars and pollution in the spotlight. London Mayor Ken Livingstone has voiced plans to ramp up the congestion charge to 25 pounds for gas-guzzling 4x4s and the city's well-heeled southwest borough of Richmond has mooted plans to charge far higher parking rates for such vehicles.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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