Report published on Phase one of Go Ultra Low Oxford pilot project

Published: Thursday, 19th December 2019

The University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit has published its report on the Go Ultra Low Oxford project – evaluating the first phase of the project, and informing future learnings.

About the trial

Go Ultra Low Oxford - which is described as having “global scientific significance”, - has trialled five different charging technologies for 18 residents across Oxford.

The project, thought to be the first on-street charging pilot of its size in the world, aims to encourage residents to adopt electric vehicles through providing the option of driving and owning electric vehicles.

The first phase of the project, which took place from July 2017 - June 2019, saw 46 charge-points installed across 28 locations, and the use of 10 electric Co-Wheels car club vehicles for trial participants.

The project saw 29 lampposts retrofitted with EV charging points in 11 streets, three types of bollard chargers were included at four installations, five households were provided with a home charger, and Co-Wheels car club deployed ten electric vehicles across Oxford, each with an allocated parking bay close to a charger.

The project was made possible after the City Council and County Council secured an £800,000 grant from the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

Resident feedback on the charging stations was collated and analysed by the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit.

The report is available on the Transport Studies Unit website.

The report

The report aimed to:

  • Evaluate the performance of the on-street charging technologies
  • Examine the adaptations to car-use routines and the change in habits for participants
  • Identify local community responses to charging installations
  • Provide insights on how the project may be scaled up locally, and transferred to other cities

The report developed evaluation criteria for public on-street chargers. It identified eight criteria for analysis from the user perspective (ease of access, ease of use, installation footprint, robustness, maintenance and repair, price, data and billing, and speed of charging), and four criteria for analysis for stakeholders (utilisation, adoption capacity, neighbour complaints, and commercial sustainability).

The evaluation criteria may be adopted for use in similar trials, and adapted to local settings.

Key findings of the report

Key findings from the report include:

  • Charging habits varied widely between users, with some regularly charging overnight, and others plugging in during the day or more often on weekends. These factors varied according to how people used their cars.
  • Participants’ charging practices changed over time, as they became familiar with the equipment.
  • However, when asked whether they had a preference for any of the charger types, two-thirds of respondents chose the technology that they had been allocated. – expressing a preference for this technology above the other four that were trialled. 
  • The technical and operational maintenance of the diverse charge point network was challenging - all chargers experienced some malfunctions or breakdowns during the trial - these will be addressed further during phase two of the trial.
  • There can be no ‘one size fits all’ solution for on-street charging – many factors influence which charging technology suits a street.

Next steps

This report and its findings will inform the strategy for phase two of the project, which will retain or replace existing phase one installations, and see up to a further 100 chargers installed across the city for residents without off-street parking.

Residents who would like their street to be considered for an electric charging point in phase two of the project can express their interest by emailing [email protected] 

“In order to encourage more people to adopt electric vehicles, we need to ensure that on street chargers are user-friendly.  Through the Go Ultra Low Oxford project we want to ensure that residents have the best charging solution that fits their street. We will be taking on the Transport Studies Unit’s insights as we progress with phase two of the project which we hope will allow us to learn more about the best chargers for Oxford residents. We hope that this report will also be of use to other cities who are also interested in adopting electric charging infrastructure, who will be able to learn from our findings.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford

“The first phase of Go Ultra Low Oxford has yielded a wealth of insights into how on-street chargers are used by trial participants and how the installations can be operated in efficient and user-friendly ways. We expect the insights to be very helpful to local authorities around the UK as they roll-out charging infrastructure.”

Dr Tim Schwanen, Director of University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit

“Working with Oxford City on the Go Ultra Low Oxford project has provided us with invaluable insights into the challenges and benefits of deploying electric vehicle charging equipment in an urban environment. This learning is now being used in our plans for future charging infrastructure deployment and in other initiatives such as the Innovate UK sponsored Park and Charge and VPACH projects which should see up to 300 charge points deployed across Oxfordshire in the next 18 months.”

Paul Gambrell, Team Leader – EV Integration, iHub Innovation Team, Oxfordshire County Council