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UK startup cracks on-street EV charging

A British startup claims to have a solution for the 11.6m UK households currently unable to charge an EV at home, using retractable telescopic charge posts.

20 telescopic and retractable charge points might be installed on a single street at a time

20 telescopic and retractable charge points might be installed on a single street at a time

The UEone was developed by Urban Electric Networks Ltd specifically to solve the problem of charging an EV for the 43% of UK households that have to park their car on-street in residential parking zones. The charge point retracts into the ground when not in use, keeping the pavement clear of clutter.

“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, acting as a barrier to EV adoption,” said cofounder Olivier Freeling-Wilkinson.

The company claims the charge point is suitable for more than 90% of residential streets, due to requiring only 405mm of depth in the pavement or ground for installation.

“We will install a minimum of 20 pop-up charge points along a residential street at a time, providing an over-supply of points, which is what will give residents the confidence that a charge point will be available, thereby enabling the switch to EVs in our major cities,” commented cofounder Keith Johnston.

“By installing an over-supply of pop-up charge points in a street from day one we will give certainty of access to a home-based charge point in residential parking zones, so that local authorities can enable the 11.6m UK households currently excluded from driving zero emission to make the switch,” added cofounder Olivier Freeling-Wilkinson.

To alleviate recent fears about grid overloading, the charge points also support grid demand management capability means entire streets can be electrified at a time, without the need for expensive grid reinforcement or EV Only bays, the company says.

Urban Electric is undertaking a £600,000 trial of the UEone with Oxford City Council, which recently announced a proposal to create the world’s first Zero Emissions Zone in 2020.

The trial is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, following a successful £474,000 bid led by Urban Electric, in partnership with Duku and Oxford City Council – and despite the recent announcement of delays for EV funding.

Susan Brown, leader at Oxford City Council, said: “We are thrilled that we will be trialing the world’s first pop-up electric vehicle charging points and that Urban Electric is bringing us this exciting new technology to encourage more residents to switch to electric vehicles.”

Poppy Welch, head of the joint industry and Government funded Go Ultra Low campaign, said: “For those homes in the UK without access to off-street parking, innovations like the UEone are a great option to ensure more people around the country have access to charging infrastructure. It’s great to see the work that Oxford – one of the government’s Go Ultra low Cities – is doing to enable people without off-street parking to charge at home. We’d encourage other cities to also take ambitious steps to ensure everyone is able to charge at home – the Government provides funding for local authorities to help with the costs of the installation of on-street charging points for residential use.”

The 5.8kW UEone uses the same SmartCable as ubitricity lamp posts, meaning that residents will be able to charge at any UEone pop-up or ubitricity lamp post, creating a new standard for urban residential charging.

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.