Oxford has become the Electric Vehicle (EV) capital of Europe after an initial network of 64 charging points has been installed across the city and surrounding area. The introduction of the £320,000 network means that Oxford now boasts the most charge points per population of any European city, beating the likes of London and Paris.

The city has been proposed as a “centre of excellence” for the use of EVs because of its high density of charging points and the upcoming launch of the Hertz On Demand electric car sharing club, designed to help attract the everyday use of ultra-low carbon vehicles.

The Hertz On Demand service will allow any member to rent one of the fleet of ten electric cars for as little as £5 per hour and is expected to launch next month.

“This fantastic investment in Oxford’s low-carbon future brings electric cars within reach for thousands of Oxford people. The Chargemaster Plc and Herz link-up is excellent news for jobs and for the environment. The network is a vote of confidence in Oxford’s future prosperity,” commented Oxford Cllr John Tanner.

The uptake of EV has been widely predicted, with some estimating that one in ten cars sold in the UK by 2020 will be electric or plug in hybrid. EVs benefit from a running cost that is approximatley 15 percent of running a petrol car, with a 'full tank' costing less than £2. EVs also emmit significantly less CO2 than their petrol equivelants.

Lorna Pimlott, Ernst & Young’s Head of EV & Infrastructure welcomed the news, stating: “It’s very encouraging to see that Oxford is playing such a leading role in promoting the acceleration of EV in the UK.

“However, the overall EV market still has a long way to go, with infrastructure being only one barrier for consumers. The biggest challenge by far is that the vehicles are in scarce supply which results in prices remaining high and beyond the reach of most households. It’s also important to ensure we continue to listen to what consumers are telling us and this clearly points to the demand to charge EVs predominately at home rather than at public charging points, which are more for an emergency top-up.

“We are at a significant crossroad for this industry with current petrol prices remaining at a record high forcing some households off the road. What we really need to see now is the automotive, infrastructure, technology and utility sectors working more collaboratively, to reduce the overall cost of EV ownership, so as to encourage mass market appeal for cash strapped drivers.”