Pop-up e-charging stations could be on the horizon

05 July 2018

Credit: Duku

Product design consultancy, Duku, has announced its development of a unique from-the-ground pop-up charge point for electric vehicles.

The brain child of EV charging startup Urban Electric Networks Ltd, the team at Duku has been tasked with developing the prototype UEone pop-up charger so that it retracts underground when not in use, to minimise the impact on the urban environment.

The project is being undertaken in partnership with Oxford City Council, who recently announced a proposal to create the world's first Zero Emissions Zone in 2020. In a world first, twenty of the UEone pop-up chargers will be trialled in a single residential street in Oxford later this year. Oxford residents are now being encouraged to nominate their street to take part in the project.

Alex Lee, director at Duku commented: “This is an exciting project for us – not only have we been given the opportunity to develop the first prototype, but we were heavily involved in the bid to secure the £474,000 of funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.”

“It’s a great concept and while the initial trial will be in Oxford, this innovation has the potential to be a major game changer – facilitating electric vehicle ownership for the 11.6 million UK households that park on-street across the UK. Needless to say, it’s a complex design and we have a number of issues to overcome in terms of different terrains, its ability to be fully submerged and interaction with an app, but we like a challenge at Duku and we are set to showcase the first prototype in the summer.”

Duku, helping to secure the future of the invention, worked with patent attorneys at its sister company, Albright IP, to file patents for the UEone. This protects its development and secures the value in its design; furthermore, intellectual property rights are being filed as the project progresses.

Olivier Freeling-Wilkinson, co-founder of Urban Electric commented: "The most convenient, affordable and climate-friendly way to charge an EV from the grid is at home at night, yet up to 85% of households in some urban residential areas cannot do so because they park on-street. This is a huge barrier to EV adoption.”

“The beauty of our design is that the UEone pop-up is a charging column that automatically retracts into the ground when not in use, and then [is] simply raised by the use of the Urban Electric app. It will be suitable for more than 90% of residential streets and eliminate the need for EV Only charging bays.”

Ian Meikle, UK director, Clean Growth and Infrastructure at Innovate, said: “Improving air quality in cities right across the world is a huge challenge but also a huge opportunity for UK businesses, which is why Innovate UK and the Government’s Industrial Strategy are supporting projects like this one in Oxford. Making sure we have the right infrastructure to encourage more people to switch to electric vehicles is a key part of meeting the air quality challenge, and if successful, this exciting project has the potential to be rolled out across the whole country, so we’re very interested to see how it progresses.”

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