Cheltenham company successfully trials world first popup on street EV charger in Oxfordshire

Duku Zoe_Charger_1

A successful six-month trial to test the world’s first pop-up electric vehicle charge point in a residential street in Oxford has paved the way for a wider roll-out, say its designers.

The UEOne pop-up charge-point, has been developed and manufactured by product design company Duku at its Cheltenham design studio for Urban Electric Networks Ltd,  and protected by sister intellectual property company Albright IP.

The project involved designing, prototyping, testing and manufacturing six retractable charge points that can rise automatically when required and disappear out of sight when not in use, maintaining space on paths and avoiding visual clutter. The project was conducted in association with Oxford City Council.

Duku Bollard Cut through_V3They are speedy to install and don’t require the use of heavy machinery – a real bonus for councils, road-users and residents, say the designers.

The consortium secured funding for the project from Innovate UK.

“This has been a fantastic project to work on,” said Duku director Alex Lee. “It addresses a real obstacle in the adoption of Electric cars – how to bring EV charging to drivers who have no-off street parking and no access to charge points near their homes.”

More than 40 per cent of drivers don’t have off-street parking, with this figure rising to 85 per cent in some parts of London.

Using CAD technology and 3D printing, Alex and his team developed and manufactured the UEOne, a reliable and robust charge-point which users can command to pop up and connect their vehicle for charging. When the charge is complete, the charge-point is retracted out of sight. Discreet LED halo lighting indicates the location and status of the charge-point ready for the next user.

“Coming up with a solution that would be reliable and suitable for the installation environment was a challenge, especially when you consider existing infrastructure such as electrics and telecoms cables.”

Duku Retracted charging pointTo ensure accessible connection to a user’s EV, the charge point rises 800mm above the pavement surface when fully extended, so Duku had to minimise that bulk beneath the ground when retracted using an innovative telescopic design. In addition, they needed to ensure the charge-points were able to operate in all conditions that the British weather can throw at it, which during the trial period consisted of 30 degree heat, ice and torrential rain and flooding!

After trialling six units in Oxford over a 6-month period working in partnership with the city council, Duku says the results have been extremely promising, and that they are now underway on a further project to enable a roll out of the technology on a commercial, UK-wide scale.

Alex added: “We are now working on a second phase design which will incorporate additional features to make the charge points as easy to use and reliable as possible as well as further engineering that will ensure a cost-effective manufacturing process as the volumes scale up.”