Pop-Up Charging Stations Are Less Offensive to Pedestrians

Finally, a way to charge electric cars without stealing the sidewalk.

Trojan energy lance in charge point
Lance installed in charge point.

Trojan Energy/ Darren Cool

Sidewalks are the crumbs left over after the cars eat all the cake. If the car owners don't have private parking, they usually get to store their vehicles in the street. If the car is electric, then it needs a place to plugin, and of course, where do they put the charging stations? On the sidewalk!

If they put them in the street then drivers would hit them, but if they put them on the sidewalk, they obstruct people with walkers or wheelchairs or people with strollers or bundle buggies. Or even, you know, people walking side by side and having a conversation.

And as our population ages, older people with diminished vision have a whole new kind of trip hazard. It's one of the reasons that pedestrian activists are not fans of electric cars: First, they took all the roads, and now they are coming after the sidewalks.

Trojan Energy chargepoint down flat

Trojan Energy/ Darren Cool

That's why these new Trojan Energy charge points are an interesting step in the right direction. When not in use, they sit almost flush with the pavement. According to Trojan Energy, car owners each have a LANCE, a 20-inch high cylinder sticks into the charge point, and a standard type 2 connector is on the end of the cord. It claims it is safe (no power goes through it until it is all hooked up) and vandal-resistant.

"The lower part of the lance is a strong aluminium cylinder which is essentially 'kick proof,' unless the vandal is very determined and prepared to suffer a little bit! The upper part of the lance flexes to prevent kicks from damaging it while also preventing any injury to anyone accidentally colliding with it."

It also claims it is that tall "at the request of a partially sighted panel we've worked with who have walked into other chargepoints. Our chargepoints are designed around pavement users as well as EV drivers." In its FAQ, the company notes "the technology has been designed with input from the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) and Disability Rights UK (DRUK) to ensure that it minimises the hazard to disabled people or those with visual impairments. The Trojan system takes into account the current Inclusive Mobility Best Practise Guidance guidelines."

It certainly looks less objectionable than other charging points we have seen, and it does disappear when the owner takes the lance away. But if it is flush, why couldn't they just put it in the street?

Another interesting point is there will be no dedicated parking spaces next to the charge points. "Parking spaces beside Trojan connectors are not exclusively for electric vehicles. Both electric and petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicles are able to use the same space, however, there will be a connector installed every 5m [16.4'] throughout a single street where we install."

Trojan Energy also claims it can handle dirt and weather.

"The system has been designed from the start with this challenge in mind. Our system includes a unique mating mechanism which insures that dust, grit and water will not enter the power side of the connector, however even if ingress were to occur, the system is also designed to be able to deal with / manage this.... The entire system is entering certification and endurance testing late this year with up to 5000 make and break connections in salt water mist conditions and grit/sand etc. in order to provide further confidence on the longevity of the design."

When one watches the video, the charge points are really close to the curb—a lot closer than in the trial shown at the top—and out of the way. If they are every 16 feet down the length of the street, then there probably won't be parking wars as there often are now when Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered cars block charging stations.

And of course, in places like New York City, they will never cover the charging points with garbage, and in Toronto, they will always shovel the snow. There will definitely be problems, but it is without question this is a step in the right direction.