posted 4 days ago

Oxford Trial Pop-Up Car Chargers

The worlds first roadside fold-up chargers are on test in Oxford right now

One of the main issues that motorists are stumbling upon when looking at electric vehicles is how they would be able to charge theirs if they were to buy one. Not everyone has off-road parking at home. So much of our population live in built-up areas or apartment blocks where it is as good as impossible to trail a cable from the nearest power outlet. When there’s a will, there is a way, and there are countless businesses and government incentives to provide charging solutions to the masses.

One solution is already being trialled in Oxford and it’s been dubbed the ‘OxPop’. The trial began in September and it ends in December. Basically, on one road in North Oxford, a company called Urban Electric have installed six fully retractable street bollards which act as deployable charging stations.

The ‘UEone’ bollard trial allows participating electric vehicle owners to charge their vehicles at the roadside free of charge using an app-based infrastructure. When the charging bollards are not in use they descend into the pavement and sit completely flush to the ground, which reduces ‘street clutter’ and, in their words, ‘preserves the urban streetscape’.

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The trial itself has a few objectives. Firstly, to remove the necessity for electric-car-only parking spaces because electric and fuel-powered vehicles are able to use the spaces. Another objective is, of course, to provide a viable charging solution for people who don’t have the luxury of a private driveway. These people typically wouldn’t even consider buying an electric vehicle, because they can’t guarantee they’ll be able to keep on top of charging by depending solely on public chargers.

Lastly, a final objective is to help Oxford City become more accessible and deliver their ambitions of a Zero-Emission Zone.

Speaking on the matter, Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford said: “Air pollution cuts short lives and people’s quality of life. Everything we do to tackle emissions has to be practical and that means supporting drivers to replace older polluting vehicles with cleaner ones. We’ve brought investment into Oxford to test different electric vehicle charging technologies and ensure residents get the best public infrastructure.”

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“By trialling the world’s first pop-up on-street chargers, Oxford is freeing our streets of clutter for residents travelling by mobility vehicles or pushing children along in buggies. We’re also ensuring that more people can own or drive EVs, especially those who want to switch but just don’t have driveways for off-street charging. The electric revolution should be open to all, whether they have driveways or not.”

Of course, integration of these posts is no easy job and it will require synergy from local councils, the highways agency and the suppliers themselves, as pathways need to be dug up to install the technology, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Right now, these are the very first pop-up roadside charging stations in the world and it’s going to be really interesting to see the results and feedback at the end of the trial.

What are your thoughts on this project? We can all agree that roadside charging solutions will be necessary to encourage nationwide adoption of electric vehicles, but what are your thoughts on submersible charging bollards? Equally, this solution only solves one of the hindrances that are preventing people from buying electric-vehicles. What’s your biggest concern - other than roadside charging? We’re always keen to hear your thoughts so please let us know in the comments section below.