In America, electric car owners can park and charge them in their garages, as odds are they have one. But in the UK, some 43% of households don't have garages or even a driveway they could run an extension cord to, and they must park on the street.
That's a barrier to electric car uptake in the UK, as EV owners prefer to charge their cars at home and overnight, when electricity rates are cheaper. Building charging stations in suburban neighborhoods like North Oxford, for instance, is out-of-the-question; the streets and sidewalks are too narrow for permanent and new infrastructure, and residents concerned with neighborhood aesthetics would never allow it.
To solve this, a company called Urban Electric has designed and engineered a pop-up charging point that literally pops up. Their UEone contraption lives underground, flush with the sidewalk, its presence revealed only by a slight orange outline.
EV owners use an app both to locate one and deploy it--and Urban Electric co-founder Oli Freeling-Wilkinson says it's so unobtrusive, even the NIMBYists have given it the thumbs-up. Take a look:
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What will be interesting to see are the social rules that will evolve from its use. Freeling-Wilkinson mentions that they install an array of six UEones at once--what happens when the neighborhood gains a seventh electric car? And even before that happens, will there be awkward exchanges or even confrontations with EV owners asking petrol-car owners to park elsewhere, so they can snag a UEone spot? In America (or at least Staten Island and Philadelphia for sure) this would undoubtedly lead to conflict, but hopefully British social graces will carry the day.