British-startup Urban Electric completes trial of pop-up EV charger

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 29 Apr 2020

British electric vehicle charging startup Urban Electric Networks has successfully completed trials of its UEone prototype on-street pop-up charging hub for EVs. The trial was conducted in association with Oxford City Council, Co-wheels Car Club and product design agency and manufacturer Duku, which was funded by the Office for low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and administered by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

It maybe recollected that in 2018, the city of Oxford was awarded £474,000 (Rs 4.3 crore) to become the first city in the world to trial ‘pop-up’ on-street electric vehicle charging points.

Urban Electric says its pop-up charging hubs were developed specifically to solve the problem of ‘at home’ charging for the 43 percent of the UK households who have to park their car on-street (8 million cars and light goods vehicles across the UK). The hub is designed primarily for convenient overnight kerbside charging, when cars are parked for 12 hours or more in the street where people live.

The app-operated charge points deliver 7kW at each socket and retract fully underground when not in use, minimising the impact on the urban environment. The innovative chargers are designed for 90 percent of residential streets, the unobtrusive design means there is no unsightly street clutter usually associated with traditional charging posts, and no special charging cable or equipment is required to operate the posts.

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council said “The learning from this trial will help Urban Electric to shape the future of the EV charging infrastructure industry, and I am thrilled that Oxford was able to be a part of through being the first city to trial this world’s first technology. I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this trial, especially the residents who shared their experiences and embraced this new technology. I am looking forward to seeing how pop-up street charging develops in the future and the next steps for Urban Electric.”

Joanna Spencer, one of the trial participants said “A truly innovative idea, the Urban Electric hub is completely discreet and makes the business of charging really stress free and convenient. I hope pop-up chargers become standard in every street.”

Urban Electric says that the post-trial survey conducted by Oxford City Council, the message from the responses was the importance of access to on-street charging. Qualitative feedback indicated that reliability, access and availability were the most important factors to consider when providing electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Respondents scored the chargers 4.3 out of 5 when asked if they would recommend them to family or a friend.

Olivier Freeling-Wilkinson, co-founder, Urban Electric said “We were delighted to learn that all residents - not just EV drivers - were ‘very happy’ with the installation of a charging hub on their street, validating the pop-up hub concept as a breakthrough in on-street charging for electric vehicles.”