Image courtesy: Duku Product Design

Urban Electric begins funding round for pop-up electric vehicle charging hub


Urban Electric Networks, Ltd. – a British electric vehicle (EV) charging station start-up – has developed the first pop-up charge point that addresses the problem of charging for the 50% of urban drivers in the United Kingdom that park on-street at night. The fully retractable UEone unit will be installed as fast charging hubs in residential streets and on-street public parking bays. The devices are designed to be used at night to minimize the impact on the power grid and the urban streetscape.

A prototype six-charger hub has been installed in Oxford where local residents will soon be able to trial the pop-up charge points, together with the Ohme intelligent EV charging system, and free use of an electric car, operated by Co-wheels car club.


Image courtesy: Urban Electric Networks, Ltd.


“The project came with a huge number of challenges, from reducing visual ‘street clutter’ to the shallow amount of available depth below ground. Cities such as Oxford have a lot of historical architecture and utilities under the pavement,’ says Alex Lee, director of Duku Product Design – the company that packaged the charger. “So, minimizing the depth below the ground is one of the big challenges. At the same time, it needs to rise up to a certain level to make it accessible for everyone, so we worked hard to miniaturize its components while also creating a charge point that could rise up to 800mm above ground level”

In addition, a range of sensors to detect obstacles and monitor the performance of the charge point ensure a safe, intelligent design that eliminates the chance of the charge point coming into contact with anything such as a parked car. Safety cut offs also ensure that the charge point does not power up until it detects that a car is connected.


Read more: GM underway with plan to build U.S. electric-vehicle charging infrastructure


Urban Electric has begun a £250,000 (~$304,000) equity crowdfunding campaign through online investment platform Crowdcube. The initial funding will support a £3,800,000 (~$4,600,000) Innovate UK backed project to install up to 18 second generation “demonstrator” pop-up charging hubs comprising more than 100 charge points in Dundee and Plymouth, prior to a full commercial launch.

At the time of writing, the company’s crowd-sourced fund was at £154,570 (~$187,800).

According to Innovate UK's Director of Clean Growth and Infrastructure, Ian Meikle, the UEone “has the potential to be rolled out across the whole of the UK.”

“Pop-up charging hubs offer a scalable solution for more than 190 million on-street parking spaces in European cities alone, enabling those without off-street residential parking to switch to an EV. If you are one of the eight million UK drivers that park your vehicle on your street at night, the convenience of charging there as well while you sleep is unbeatable – simply plug-in when you get home in the evening for a full charge in the morning,” says Urban Electric cofounder, Olivier Freeling-Wilkinson.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.