COP26: Grant Shapps’ design concept for electric vehicle chargepoint revealed

VIDEO CONTENT: London-based PA Consulting (PA), has unveiled its design concept for a British electric vehicle chargepoint today at COP26.

The project – commissioned by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in August 2021 – supports local authorities up and down the country by providing a blueprint of good design standards for electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints. It has been designed to enhance the charging experiences of residents, businesses, and visitors alike. 

The ambition of this project is to develop a concept design that could become as recognisable as the red post box or black cab and accelerate the UK government’s transport decarbonisation plan. 

The new chargepoint, developed in conjunction with the Royal College of Art (RCA), has been designed as an inclusive and sustainable piece of street furniture, with the potential to bring the electric revolution to life – a key step in achieving net zero. 

EV chargepoints are an increasingly common feature across the UK but positive action is now needed to encourage wider adoption. User experience will take centre stage, ensuring that chargepoints are easily locatable, and that interfaces are consistent across regions and locations, so that EV drivers across the country are confident they can charge their vehicles simply and efficiently.

PA developed the new design from research, through concept, to prototype by leveraging its world-class innovation capabilities and facilities. This meant bringing together its expertise in human insights, exceptional product design and engineering capability, and vast experience of the EV ecosystem to create a design with inclusivity and accessibility at its heart. 

There were six principles that guided the design of the chargepoint; not only did the end product need to be functional, inclusive, sustainable, adaptable and affordable, but people had to love it, says PA

With this in mind, “the chargepoint has an instantly recognisable circular handle, and the materials, size and colour help it to blend into the UK’s diverse surroundings, whilst remaining visible for EV drivers. The design is influenced by heritage street furniture, brought into the 21st century via smart technology, materials and form,” adds PA

To achieve this design, PA engaged an inclusive group of existing and potential EV drivers from across the country to understand their challenges, as well as getting the perspective of more than 30 different organisations in the EV space – from chargepoint manufacturers and operators, to local authorities and consumer groups such as Motability.

This work complemented the government’s consumer experience consultation and ensured the design was aligned with accessibility standards, infrastructure strategy and local authority guidance. The end product is a visible emblem to help position the UK at the forefront of advances in EV manufacture, charging infrastructure and battery technology.

Dan Toon, design and innovation expert at PA Consulting said: “Great design has the power to bring the electric revolution to life. Combining our end-to-end innovation expertise with a focus on human-centric design principles, we spoke with motorists, consumer groups and industry to draw out the real needs of people and businesses and design a chargepoint that combines practicality and inclusivity. The value of design isn’t just in creating a brilliant product, but in solving problems and changing behaviours. 

“Our approach put the consumer at the heart of the design; rapidly iterating and testing with real people at each milestone. This is just the start. Design has a critical role to play in the journey towards Net Zero.”

Warwick Goodall, transport expert and project lead at PA Consulting added: “It is incredibly exciting to unveil the new design concept at COP26. Combining functionality and inclusivity, this design will have a profound impact on how we think about charging EVs and accelerate the transition to zero emission vehicles. Ultimately, this is essential to deliver the reduction in carbon emissions and meet our climate change commitments.”

About PA

We believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. 

As strategies, technologies and innovation collide, we create opportunity from complexity. 

Our diverse teams of experts combine innovative thinking and breakthrough use of technologies to progress further, faster. Our clients adapt and transform, and together we achieve enduring results. 

An innovation and transformation consultancy, we are over 3,300 specialists in consumer and manufacturing, defence and security, energy and utilities, financial services, government, health and life sciences, and transport. Our people are strategists, innovators, designers, consultants, digital experts, scientists, engineers and technologists. We operate globally from offices across the UK, US, Netherlands and Nordics. 

PA’s design capabilities

Design is an integral part of PA’s end-to-end innovation capability which also includes strategy, engineering and manufacturing process improvement. We believe that by applying design principles end-to-end across processes, organisations will dismantle barriers to growth and increase impact. And in doing so, unlock the ingenuity trapped in their organisations. 

For nearly 80 years, we have been delivering world-class design innovation. More recently, PA has enhanced its design capabilities through the acquisition of award-winning design firms Essential Design and Astro Studios. A few recent examples of our product designs include: 

About the RCA – the world’s number one art and design university 

The Royal College of Art is the world’s leading university of art and design. A small, specialist and research-intensive postgraduate university based in London, the RCA provides over 2,000 students with unrivalled opportunities to deliver art and design projects that transform the world. 

Offering MA, MPhil, MRes and PhD programmes across the disciplines of architecture, arts & humanities, design and communications, the RCA’s approach is founded on the premise that art, design, creative thinking, science, engineering and technology must all collaborate to solve today’s global challenges. 

The College employs around 1,000 professionals from all over the world to teach and develop students in 30 academic programmes; exposing them to new knowledge in a way that encourages experimentation. 

InnovationRCA, the university’s centre for enterprise, entrepreneurship, incubation and business support, has helped over 70 RCA business ideas become a reality that has led to the creation of over 750 UK jobs. 

The RCA was named the world’s leading university of art and design in the QS World Rankings 2021 for the seventh consecutive year. 

About the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles

The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) is a joint Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) team.

It leads on Government’s policy on ultra low and zero emission vehicles, working closely with teams across Whitehall. These include, the Automotive and Electricity Network teams in BEIS and the Environment Strategy team in DfT.

OZEV was established in 2009, recognising that the transition to zero emission vehicles is an issue that cuts across departments and the need for close working between departmental teams. The Secretary of State for Transport is the Cabinet representative for the work of OZEV.

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