UK City Explores Retractable "Pop Up" Car Charging Stations

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©. PRNewsfoto/Urban Electric

Well, this should help reduce street clutter.

Whatever one thinks about electric cars, Lloyd's concern that charging infrastructure will clutter our sidewalks is an important one. One way that cities are addressing this problem is repurposing lamp posts and electric distribution substations to incorporate electric vehicle charging capabilities.

Now the city of Oxford, England—which is in the midst of testing many different types of charging infrastructure—is experimenting with what it says is the world's first retractable 'pop up' charging station.

Developed by UK-based start up Urban Electric Networks, the stations are controlled by an app, and disappear under the surface of the street when not in use. Interestingly, the system appears designed to work in concert with the aforementioned lamp posts from Ubitricity:

The app-operated UEone charges at up to 5.8kW and retracts underground when not in use, minimising the impact on the urban environment. Standard height when raised, yet requiring an installation depth of just 405mm, the UEone is suitable for more than 90% of residential streets. Its unobtrusive design and grid demand management capability means that whole streets can be electrified at a time without the unsightly street clutter usually associated with traditional charging posts, or for expensive grid reinforcement, or the need for EV Only bays. The 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.

Also worthy of note is that the Urban Electric model requires a minimum of 20 charging stations installed per street—with the goal being to guarantee access for residents on any given street—removing the need for dedicated parking bays, and greatly increasing the confidence of electric vehicle drivers that they'll always have a place to recharge. Also important is the fact that supply and installation of these things is free of charge to local authorities. Presumably Urban Electric plans to make its money from charging services—at what it says is half the cost of fueling up with gas.

I look forward to seeing whether they can make these things work.