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Britain's next icon: Autocar designs a roadside EV charger


What’s my conclusion, then? Well, that ‘iconic’ styling isn’t the most important aspect of a new- generation national charger’s design. As Clive Grinyer, head of service design at the Royal College of Art, said in that government press release, we must design “the total service experience to ensure a usable, beautiful and inclusive design that’s an excellent experience for all”.

That said, I don’t believe that form follows function (unless perhaps you’re designing a fighter jet). There’s plenty of room for good design and  great detailing while also making the new charger much easier and instinctive to operate.

So, where to start? I think we must break down the requirements into a number of distinct areas.

● Weatherproofing. There’s a serious problem with wet touchscreens, phones getting wet when scanning QR codes and the significant problem of cables dragging around on wet and dirty pavement, gathering mess that they will soon transfer to hands and boot carpets.

● Eliminating touchscreens and specific apps and making payment as simple as using a cashpoint.

● Giving the charger its own wi-fi provision.

● Clearly indicating that the charger is operational.

● Clearly indicating the actual charging rate.

● Finding some way of dealing with heavy cables.

I might also add a couple of my own observations from people who have quizzed me about buying an EV. A number of female drivers have expressed safety concerns about charging in dark areas or deserted car parks, and it would be a good idea to make it easier to spot a charger from a distance, especially at driving speeds. (In fact, this was one of the reasons the classic telephone box gained backlit glass signage around the top and one of the issues with the 1980s replacement for it. The replacement was a lightweight construction in stainless steel that was so hard to pick out from a streetscape that it was later given an illuminated moulded top in the style of its predecessor.)



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