Electric Highway EV charger in use

Electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK could become as recognisable as the red post box or black cab, following the appointment of the Royal College of Art (RCA) and PA Consulting to deliver an iconic British chargepoint design, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced today (9 August 2021).

The design will be unveiled at COP26 in Glasgow this November and could be seen on streets across the country from 2022. The aim is for the chargepoints to be functional and accessible for all users with sustainability at the heart of the design.

The project gets underway as independently produced statistics from Zap Map reveal there are now over 25,000 public charging devices across the UK – described as a ‘major milestone’ - which means that electric vehicle drivers are never more than 25 miles from a chargepoint on UK roads. It follows recent statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) which show that over one in six cars sold in July 2021 had a plug.

In the run-up to COP26, the UK government is calling on countries around the world to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, which – along with phasing out of coal power and halting deforestation – are crucial to keeping warming to 1.5°C. As part of that, the government says having the right charging infrastructure in place is crucial.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ”Excellent design plays a key role in supporting our transition to zero emission vehicles, which is why I want to see EV chargepoints that are as iconic and recognisable as the British phone box, London bus or black cab.

”With less than three months to go until COP26, we continue to put the UK at the forefront of the design, manufacture and use of zero-emission vehicles and their charging infrastructure, as we build back greener and call on countries around the world to similarly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

The rollout will allow chargepoints to be more recognisable for drivers, helping to create awareness around the transition to EVs – and linking them to the iconic British designs of old that are recognised the world over.

Today’s announcement follows the launch of government’s Transport decarbonisation plan, described as a world-leading ‘greenprint’ published earlier this summer that sets out a path for the UK to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and lead the world in tackling climate change. It also comes alongside an array of government interventions to ensure charging is as easy as, if not easier than, refuelling a petrol or diesel car or van.

Clive Grinyer, head of Service Design at the RCA, said: ”This is an opportunity to support the design of a future icon that will be part of our national culture as we move towards a sustainable future. The RCA has been at the forefront of shaping our products, mobility and services for the last 180 years. We are delighted to be playing a role in the design of the total service experience to ensure a usable, beautiful and inclusive design that is an excellent experience for all.

Warwick Goodall, transport and net-zero mobility expert at PA Consulting, said: “We know that excellent design has the power to dismantle barriers to growth and simplify the user experience, making the switch to electric vehicles more attractive, accessible, affordable and secure for drivers. PA has a strong legacy in product design, which is an integral part of our world-leading end-to-end innovation capability. The combination of PA’s world-class design team and the Royal College of Art brings the creative expertise to reimagine the EV chargepoint as an iconic piece of British street furniture.

”We look forward to working together with the public and industry on a design framework that will accelerate the chargepoint rollout ambitions and bring to life the electric vehicle revolution on our streets.”