e-mobility: How will we all cope at 7pm?

In the 1970’s the UK had more electric vehicles than anywhere else in the world…. These trend-setters were ‘milk floats’!

The humble milk float was designed for reliability, durability, and quietness of operation. The pollution free ‘floats’ glided around towns and cities during the early hours with the only evidence of their existence being the appearance of a pint of milk on your doorstep!

Now, some 30 years on, the UK has less than 3,000 electric vehicles.

On Friday night transport planner and engineer John Fewings challenged us with his discussion “Managing e-mobility from a planners perspective: getting infrastructure in place” as part of Plug In –Park Up’  (Day 3) in “Dynamic Connections”  all about dynamic transportation and community connections

The UK is currently home to 30 million vehicles but the aim is to have 2 million electric vehicles in use by 2020 and to have 9000 e-mobility charging points by 2013… there are currently 704.

So John posed these questions for our consideration:

  1. Will electric cars encourage more people to drive to work?
  2. Will people ‘shift their mode’ from public and active transportation to travelling by car?
  3. Will e-mobility increase or decrease city congestion?
  4. Will centrally charging points result in more car sharing/car pooling?

Parking an electric car at home. 

The UK has 25 million homes of which 40% do not have off-street parking. 30% of all homes have more than one car and most homes with garages have the space designed ‘for the car’ filled with ‘junk’. Add to this the real fact that the batteries are pretty heavy to carry and that residents already complain that they cannot park outside their own home or close to their house because there are just too many cars in our cities. So…

  • How will we re-charge our car if we can’t park outside our own home and if we don’t have any off-road car parking space?

Parking an electric car at work.

Around the western world the majority of workplace parking is relatively informal. Many people park in locations separated from their workplace; communal car parks, municipal car parks, residential streets and private parking spaces. So..

  • If you park your car in a commercial car park will there be allocated ‘charging’ spaces?
  • Will you need to pre-book and reserve a time to re-charge your car in a city centre car park?
  • Will you have to wait (for up to 8 hours) whilst your car is being re-charged?
  • Who will pay for the re-charging costs – you or the car park owner?
  • Will your employer provide charging points at work?

Power supplies

Domestic European household socket output is around 3kw but faster e-mobility charging required 7kw. So,

  • Will we need to change our utilities?
  • What will happen if everyone re-charges their car at 7pm when they get home from work – will this strain the power supply?
  • Will we be able to choose how electricity is generated?

Fuel stations

Over recent years fuel stations have increased in size but reduced in numbers.

  • How far will we need to travel to re-charge our cars if we can’t re-charge at home?


In recent years town and city planners have worked hard to de-clutter our streets removing unnecessary impediments and signage.

  • Will we need re-charging points on our city streets?
  • Will re-charging points add to street clutter?
  • Will re-charging stations need advertising like the public bicycle hire stations?
  • Will advertising agencies cover the costs of car re-charging?

What do you think?

I can’t wait to hear from you.


‘FAB IN THE LAB’ for Friday was Amy Saunders for facilitating Giant Board Games in English and in German in the sun on the most humid day ever in Berlin.