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The UK’s first accessible car charger empowers disabled drivers

05 April 2022

Duku, a Cheltenham-based product design consultancy, has unveiled the UK’s first EV charger developed to enable elderly and disabled drivers to support the country’s renewable energy transition.

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has released a draft set of new standards for accessible electric vehicle (EV) chargers, but one design team is already ahead of the game. 

Duku’s design and research support the BSI standards and include patented features such as a motorised cable drum to automatically coil and uncoil the cable using plug-mounted buttons. A crash-resistant base protects the unit from damage without the need for obstructive collision barriers.

Meanwhile, the charger is designed to be highly visible with an intuitive, movable tap to pay interface that doesn’t use touchscreens or an app. These 7-22kW fast chargers are ideal for residential streets or car parks, and an innovative plug and play system ensures that they can be installed in less than 10 minutes. 

After winning funding from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and Innovate UK in July 2021, Duku only took eight months to create the country’s first truly accessible charging solution. Live product trials took place in Dundee in March and received very positive feedback from a wide range of users.

The charger was developed alongside Urban Foresight (a smart cities consultancy) which helped to undertake the research, project management and public trials. Dundee City Council also played a keen role in supporting the project as well as disabled drivers like Emily Yates.

In Emily Yates’s own words, “As a wheelchair user, I find driving really liberating. Unfortunately, due to the lack of accessible charging infrastructure in the current market, I’m yet to own an electric vehicle. Having reviewed Duku's new charger design that provides a completely barrier-free solution for my particular requirements, this may well change in the near future!”

According to Andrew Aylesbury, Director of Duku, “Our research highlighted the problems people were having, including the need to use two hands and reach past those collision barriers. Now, everything’s touchless, lightweight and the obstructions are gone. Ultimately, it’s a better charging point for everyone regardless of disability. We’re grateful to Dundee City Council and Urban Foresight for their project management assistance which helped us get to this point so quickly.”

Final-stage development is now underway, and Duku is looking to take its charger into production and installation.

Clare Pennington, Project Manager at Urban Foresight, concluded: “This has been [a] fantastic project to work on. Being able to draw together Urban Foresights experience of the EV sector and our understanding of the challenges facing disabled motorists when making the change to EVs, to design and develop a unique charge point that delivers improved accessibility and user experience.”

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