Solving the electric car on-street charging problem

 In disruption, electric cars

Back in May 2017, I walked past this scene in Kensington, London. It was around the time the UK Government announced that all petrol and diesel cars would be banned by 2040 to improve air quality.

I had seen the car in question regularly, hooked up to the mains via a cable running across a quiet cul-de-sac street.  The cord was plugged into a socket located in a real estate agent’s office. All very amateurish and possibly quite lethal.

I wondered aloud, and on Twitter that we would have to solve this street kerb charging problem if the rise of electric cars is to occur and have them go mainstream well before the UK’s 2040 deadline.

To my surprise, when walking in Kensington last week, I came across this setup.

Upon closer inspection, this ordinary street lamp post had been transformed into an electric vehicle charging station, part of a trial between OVO Energy, ubitricity and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council.

To access the network, users buy a cable with an inbuilt electricity meter from the service provider, Ubitricity. There are two pricing options:

Option one – purchase a cable for £199 and join Ubitricity’s monthly subscription scheme for £7.99 per month and charges 0.15 pence per kWh for electricity used.

Option two – buy a cable for £299 with no monthly subscription and charges 19 pence per kWh for electricity used.

With both options there will be additional charges of £1 for each charging session and a charge of £1 per hour after the first 24 hours of being plugged in – this is to stop people leaving their vehicle plugged in longer than they need to, and to maximise the number of vehicles that can be charged from each lamp column. These additional charges will be collected by Ubitricity and be paid to the Council.

I really like this initiative, as until now those people who have to park their electric vehicle on the street (inner London famously has very limited off-street parking due to the old buildings) don’t have to run a cable across the street, as seen in the above photo, or fight for one of the seemingly rare EV charging stations in London, like the one below.

If electric vehicles are going to become the norm in the next 10 years or so, sorting out the “charge anywhere” problem needs to be addressed now.

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About 

Based in London, Practical Futurist and former Global Managing Partner at IBM, Andrew Grill is a popular and sought-after presenter and commentator on issues around digital disruption, workplace of the future and new technologies such as blockchain. Andrew is a multiple TEDx and International Keynote Speaker.