London mayor Boris Johnson has announced the Spring (Q2) 2011 launch of the Source London electric vehicle program. For a GBP100 (US$159) annual membership fee, participants will have access to over 1,300 public EV charging points located across the city. Once all those stations are up and running, which should be by 2013, London will have twice as many charging points as petrol stations. It’s a big step forward in an even larger scheme, which would see a network of Source charging points in cities across the UK.

There are currently almost 17,000 electric or hybrid vehicles registered in London and over 250 charging points in various locations. To use those facilities, however, drivers are required to register in each borough that they wish to charge in. Source London would greatly simplify that situation, as members could just pull up and plug in anywhere in the city. The ultimate goal is for drivers to always be within no more than one mile of a charging point.

The program is part of Johnson’s vision of London becoming the electric vehicle capital of Europe, with a hoped-for 100,000 electric vehicles on the streets as soon as possible. According to a City of London press release, 90 percent of all car trips in London are under 10 miles (16 km) in length, which makes the city ideal for EV use. The mayor is sweetening the deal for potential EV-buyers, by offering them a 100 percent discount on the city’s congestion charge – this could reportedly work out to a savings of almost GBP1,700 (US$2,700) a year.

“Major manufacturers are gearing up to launch more affordable, practical electric cars over the next few years, whilst the cost of traditional fuels are making petrol-free driving an increasingly attractive option,” said Johnson. “By opting for electric in greater numbers, Londoners will also help to cut pollution levels and improve the city's quality of living.”

Source London is being developed by the government-run Transport for London, in collaboration with the London boroughs and various private sector partners. Multinational engineering company Siemens is handling IT and technical services for the program.