McDonald’s announces plans to introduce ‘rapid charging’ for electric vehicles at new UK drive-thrus

The sun sets behind a McDonald’s restaurant in Southport, England, in January 2020.

  • A number of quite significant changes are taking place in the automotive sector which could change the types of vehicle people use.
  • Major players such as Volkswagen are now making big moves in the electric vehicle market.

McDonald’s U.K. said Monday that it was planning to install rapid charging points for electric vehicles at new drive-thru restaurants in the country.

The fast food giant is partnering with a firm called InstaVolt, which specializes in the technology. Charging infrastructure will also be introduced to existing drive-thru restaurants where feasible, with the technology rolled out to new drive-thrus “as standard.”

In a statement Paul Pomroy, the CEO of McDonald’s U.K. & Ireland, said that appetite for electric vehicles, which he described as a “central part of the U.K.’s efforts to build back greener post COVID-19,” was growing.

“This partnership and ambition takes advantage of our scale, and is a real step forward for those already driving electric vehicles, as well as people considering making the switch,” he added.

McDonald’s said that the rapid charging technology from InstaVolt would be able to provide an 80% charge in under 20 minutes.

The coronavirus pandemic has hit overall U.K. car sales hard. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that new car registrations in May dropped by 89% compared to 2019.

Last month did, however, see battery electric vehicle registrations grow by 21.5%, a spurt the SMMT put down to “pre-orders of the latest premium models” being delivered to consumers.

Before the pandemic disrupted the market, battery electric vehicle registrations grew to 37,850 in 2019, according to the SMMT, an increase of 144% compared to 2018, when 15,510 were registered.

One potential barrier to electric vehicle uptake is “range anxiety,” an idea that electric vehicles are not able to undertake long journeys without losing power. Better charging infrastructure is seen as being key to combating this perception.

For its part, McDonald’s said that its partnership with InstaVolt would “increase accessibility of rapid charging for drivers across the U.K. by providing a network of convenient and recognisable locations beyond service stations, residential streets and workplaces.”

While Monday’s announcement relates to the U.K. market — which is already home to a number of charging points at McDonald’s — the last few years have seen the company introduce charging facilities to sites around the world, including the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Slowly but surely, some quite significant changes are taking place in the automotive sector which could herald a new era in transportation.

On Friday, Germany’s Volkswagen said that the last internal combustion model had rolled off the production line at its Zwickau facility in Saxony.

The firm said that, going forward, only electric Volkswagens would be manufactured at the site. In the years ahead, electric versions of two other major brands, Audi and Seat, will also be built there.

While major players such as Volkswagen are attempting to increase their electric car offerings, work still needs to be done to mitigate the environmental impact of vehicles that run on gasoline and diesel.

Last Friday also saw the European Environment Agency (EEA) report provisional data which showed the scale of the task.

According to the EEA, average carbon dioxide emissions from passenger cars and vans registered in 2019 grew compared to the previous year. The data refers to new registrations in the European Union, the U.K., Norway and Iceland.

“The reasons for the increase in car emissions include the growing share of the sport utility vehicle … segment,” the organization said. It also noted that “the market penetration of electric cars remained slow in 2019.”

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