The new 1,100km charging network installed by Rapid Charge Network across Britain is now active. The route, which stretches across the country diagonally and reaches from Stranraer in Scotland right through to East Anglia and from Hull to Holyhead in Wales - as well as connecting to Belfast and Dublin - was turned on last month. There are 74 rapid chargers within the network, all capable of charging a typical electric vehicle battery to at least 80 per cent in less than 30 minutes. This makes long-distances more plausible for electric car drivers, and has also ended an era in which plug-in vehicles were only really considered suitable for towns and cities. Ben Fletcher, electric vehicle product manager at Groupe Renault UK, said: 'Electric vehicle sales are rising strongly as vehicle technologies and the nationwide charging infrastructure take major strides forward, facilitating cost-effective local and long-distance motoring. Investments like the Rapid Charge Network are vital for maintaining the momentum and encouraging more motorists to go electric.î New research from Newcastle University has revealed that almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of EV users will be motivated to use the rapid chargers in order to prolong their vehicle's battery life. This will allow drivers to drive both faster and further. The network represented a £7.4m investment, which was part-funded by the European Union's Trans European Transport Network programme alongside four major EV manufacturers: Nissan, BMW, Renault and Volkswagen. ESB _ Ireland's foremost energy company _ and the UK's Ecotricity are the operators responsible for providing power to all of the Rapid Charge Network charging stations. Sunderland-based firm, Zero Carbon Futures were responsible for implementing the network in order to help meet increasing demand for public charge points. It's also hoped that the charge points will help encourage more motorists to switch to electric plug-in vehicles. A spokesperson for Volkswagen UK said: 'We, and our electric vehicle customers, will welcome the development of a network of multi-standard charge points. Each charge point on the network is compatible with all standard EVs on sale today, taking away the element of confusion for drivers and providing reassurance that they can rapid charge regardless of make or model.î