Gas stations OK, electric-car chargers too ugly?


Ubitricity electric-car charging cord

Ubitricity electric-car charging cord

Delays in rolling out new electric-car charging infrastructure may not just be about economics. Aesthetics may be holding back installations in some places too, according to the manager of electric-car sharing company Zipcar in Britain

Jonathan Hampson, general manager for Zipcar in the United Kingdom told the Sunday Times that local political leaders are holding up permits for new rapid-charging installations over concerns that they're too ugly.

Last year the London government earmarked about $5.8 million to install Level 2 chargers on street-lights in 25 London boroughs, and charging networks have committed to installing thousands more fast chargers in the next few years. Installations, however, are falling behind.

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“Only a fraction of what we were told would be installed have been put in,” he said, “and it’s really because, between the boroughs and City Hall they haven’t reached agreement on where they should go; how they’re going to be put in. The boroughs don’t want them on their land because they perceive them to be ugly."

Hampson mentions the need to get over what he sees as "quite petty arguments, in the grand scheme of issues we've got."

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So far, the London government's investment has gone toward installing chargers along boulevards and thoroughfaresso-called "red routes," which carry higher traffic volume than other London streets, but which have tight controls on stopping or parking. For Zipcar, these are the least effective places for chargers in London. 

In reality, charging network executives debate endlessly about whether it is most effective to put chargers along routes between electric-car drivers' destinations to they can travel farther from one to another, or in cities where residents lack access to home charging, or in suburbs which have the highest concentrations of electric cars.
 

 
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