Food for thought – Electric Vehicle charge points

Posted on October 10th, 2011 by James Luckhurst

Food for thought – Electric Vehicle charge pointsI read this morning that a network of electric vehicle charging points is to be made available for customers of Little Chef restaurants. The company announced the UK roll-out of high technology electric vehicle charging points, creating what it claims will be the biggest installation of charging points by any restaurant chain worldwide.  And that’s not the end of it. From February 2012, 90% of the UK will be no further than 30 miles from their nearest Little Chef equipped with a charging point. This supports the prediction that, over the next three years, major motor manufacturers will have plug-in cars on the market, and by the end of this decade, it is widely forecast that one in 10 new cars will be electric.   This new facility, they say,  will allow fast charging of up to 7 kW, allowing electric motorists to top their electric car up quickly whilst enjoying a hot meal.

I can live with just about all of that. Great planning. A long-term investment. Excellent. But as a long-time avoider of the Little Chef experience, I fear I may not be joining the throngs of hungry travellers beating a path to the door of their local eatery, their vehicle batteries in as much need of recharging as they are. And why? What’s my problem? Isn’t a Little Chef breakfast pretty well the same as any other breakfast to be purchased from the roadside? I suppose so, but I will tell you of two recent breakfasting experiences. The first was in a Little Chef somewhere near Northampton. A colleague and I were on our way to a meeting, having set off early. We were hungry. We stopped for breakfast. Our first task was to wipe a couple of dead flies from the window ledge by our bench-seat-table. Not a good start. Our next challenge was to attract the attention of our host. We were the only ones in there, yet getting our order in promptly proved a challenge. The food, when it came, was fine. It was, after all, exactly as the pictorial menu indicated it would be. The bill, at close to £20, seemed excessive.

More recently, I stopped at a Sainsbury’s superstore café on the edge of Bedford, where I had the ‘big breakfast’ and a cup of coffee for little more than £5. The décor was a whole lot more contemporary, the service was fast (OK I stood at the till with my tray, but they still cooked everything fresh and brought the meal to my table) and the staff were attentive.

Travellers will always need somewhere to stop and recharge their batteries, but I’m not sure that the Little Chef electric powerpoints will prove enough to lure me back inside just yet.