The British EV charging startup Urban Electric Networks has announced the completion and results of the trial of their UEone prototype on-street charging hub in Oxford. According to the company, the test of its retractable chargers has proven “a big success”, a fact that the council’s survey confirmed.
Urban Electric Networks had involved the Oxford City Council, Co-wheels Car Club and product design agency Duku in the trial launched in 2018. The partners fitted a street with six charging points delivering 7 kW that retract underground when not being used for charging. This way, sidewalks can remain clear for pedestrians, while drivers can kerbside charge their EVs overnight. Funding for the test in Oxford came through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) administered by Innovate UK.
From the start, Urban Electric Networks marketed the use of pop-up curbside charging stations as a solution to tightly packed urban spaces. The idea is to unobtrusively integrate chargers to provide on-street charging opportunities for people who do not park in a garage – in the UK, 43% of households have to park their car on-street. At the same time, the solution is designed to minimise the “unsightly street clutter usually associated with traditional charging posts”, the firm said.
The first of the six-charger hubs was installed last year, which eventually expanded into a larger pilot project. This has now concluded with a proof of concept for the technology, and a positive reaction from participating drivers and residents.
In a survey the Oxford council conducted after the trial, the points were rated highly by those using the chargers, and interestingly also by residents who didn’t actually use the points. Urban Electric co-founder Olivier Freeling-Wilkinson thus was “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.”
Overall, the message from the responses to the trial 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, quotes Urban Electric. Respondents scored the chargers 4.3 out of 5 when asked if they would recommend them to family or a friend.
With reporting from Nora Manthey, London.