Frequently Asked Questions about the Park and Charge Oxfordshire scheme
The project will install up to 250 individual charging points (125 double charging units) across 20 car parks across the county. There will five Park and Charge hubs in each of the districts taking part. All car parks will have between 10 and 16 individual electric vehicle charging points/bays (ie between 5 and 8 double-headed charging units) in each.
The total value of the project is £5.4million, including £4.1million grant funding from the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) – made up of £2.9million via Innovate UK and £1.3million via the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS). Innovate UK are part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. The rest has of the funding comes from the project’s commercial partners Zeta Specialist Lighting and [ui!]UK (Urban Integrated). Oxfordshire County Council and the District Councils are not contributing any direct finances to this project.
There are several innovative elements to the Park and Charge chargers, which have been designed and produced bespoke for the project by Bicester-based SME and project lead Zeta Specialist Lighting. These new EV chargers will be bookable overnight to guarantee certainty to the user; they can charge at different rates at different times of the day, depending on availability of electricity from the grid; and they will be self-checking and modular which will mean faults can be fixed a lot quicker and the chargers will have a much higher ‘uptime’ than many current models; they are designed for user-friendliness and will have a large LCD screen to guide people through how to use them; and they incorporate clever load-balancing technology which helps to deal with fluctuations in grid capacity.
In addition to this, the scheme itself is innovative in the way it is creating EV charging hubs in residential car parks to provide an alternative to on-street chargers where home charging is difficult.
As the primary aim of the project is to provide overnight charging hubs for residents without off-street parking, the sites have been prioritised in areas where there are large numbers of residents without off-street parking within a 5-minute walk. There are also lots of other criteria that have been taking into consideration in making decisions about location, such as the electricity network connection available, the size of the local population and level of car ownership, and the vehicle crime levels in the area. In some places, what might seem like a perfect spot has not been possible to include due to who owns the car park or how much power can be provided there by the District Network Operators.
In addition, the main cost of charge point installation is the cabling and groundworks, so the overall installation costs become significantly lower the more chargers are installed in one place – this means we were not able to include any sites in this pilot project where any less than 5 double chargers are appropriate (i.e. we couldn’t put 1 charger in a small village car park within the scope of this particular project). However, Park and Charge is intended to demonstrate the viability of this type of charging solution, and once proven OCC and the District Councils hope this will become a blueprint for for rolling out further EV charging hubs across more of Oxfordshire’s towns and villages in the future if suitable funding can be secured.
EV ownership and sales are currently significantly higher in Oxfordshire than the UK average, and EV adoption here is set to grow very rapidly over the next few years. Latest modelling, using actual vehicle registration data to date, predicts that will we see over 25,000 Battery EVs on Oxfordshire’s roads by 2025, and that by 2030 is it anticipated that 1 in 5 cars on Oxfordshire’s roads will be a battery electric vehicle. After that, forecasts indicate that electric vehicles could rise sharply to account for 4 in 5 cars on Oxfordshire’s roads by 2037.
In addition to this, it is widely recognised that one of the main barriers currently preventing people switching to EV is a perception of a lack of public EV charging infrastructure, so having very visible EV infrastructure in an area gives confidence and a strong encouragement to make the switch.
The bays that have electric vehicle chargers will be newly designated as ‘Electric Vehicle Charging Only’ bays, and so will only be permitted for that specific use (rather like Disabled Bays are only for blue badge holders). However, the swift transition to electric vehicles will mean there will soon be simply less petrol and diesel vehicles on the roads, so the competition for non-electric vehicle parking spaces should not be significantly increased (certainly in the longer term).
Each charger will be a double unit, which will essentially provide two electric vehicle ‘charge points’, i.e. two electric vehicle charging bays in a car park. The large LCD screen on the front will give instructions on how to use the charger and show e.g. tariff information, whilst the coloured lights on the side will show car park users the status of each charger (e.g. charging, pre-booked, available, out of use etc.).
Both ‘tethered’ and ‘socketed’ chargers will be provided in each car park (as shown below), which means all EV drivers can use these, whether they have Type 1 or Type 2 connections.
Anyone will be able to use the chargers – they will be suitable for charging all makes of electric vehicle. They are particularly intended to suit the needs of residents without off-street parking (who therefore cannot charge at home), but they will be available to anyone at any time such as visitors, commuters, taxis, fleet vehicles and other local people.
Both ‘tethered’ and ‘socketed’ chargers will be provided in each car park, which means all EV drivers can use these, whether they have Type 1 or Type 2 connections.
Most of the car parks in the scheme will have at least one ‘accessible’ EV charging bay, which is wider than average and will enable many disabled drivers to more easily access the scheme. The charger cables should be within easy reach of wheelchair users, and a charging session can be initiated via the EZ-Charge app if the screen on the charger itself is not accessible to the user.
All car parking spaces are already free across the County to Blue Badge holders, so disabled users only ever need pay for the EV charging itself.
Pease note there will not, however, be any bays specifically designated as ‘Disabled EV charging only’ since this would significantly reduce allowed usage of the bay and is not felt necessary at the current time.
We are keen to fully understanding the accessibility needs of disabled drivers, and would welcome feedback on the experiences that disabled drivers have with the chargers when they are live.
All chargers will have a ‘tap and go’ payment option, meaning users can simply make a one-off, contactless payment with their debit/credit cards.
For those who prefer, there is also a user-friendly EZ-Charge app that can be downloaded from the EZ-Charge website at https://www.ez-charge.co.uk/charge and will soon be available from Google Play and the Apple Store. Payments for charging can be made via the app, or app users also have the option of applying for an RFID card to pay for charging if they prefer.
Very soon EZ-Charge will be launching a full membership scheme, which will be available at a small monthly fee and will unlock benefits such as lower tariffs, a charger booking service and handy reminders. However, membership will never be a requirement for using the chargers. Full details of the range of payment options – and link to the app – are at https://www.ez-charge.co.uk/charge.
Yes, when and where the District Council charges for parking, these charges will still apply. However, all car parks in scheme are free to park in overnight, and some – like in West Oxfordshire – are free at all times.
Car parks have been selected that do not have significant issues with crime. In general, additional security measures are not being put in place as part of Park and Charge, although this may need to be reviewed at a later date should this prove to be a barrier to uptake of the scheme.
Your insurer only normally needs to know where you ‘normally park your car’ – for most overnight users of Park and Charge, the council car parks will still not be the main place you park your car, so your insurance should not be affected by your parking for one or two nights week or less at the Park and Charge locations.
The basic tariff at all of the Park and Charge EV chargers is 35p/kw during the daytime and 30p/kw overnight (from midnight to 7am). This is the tariff available to non-members using Tap and Go/making contactless payments.
For regular users, there is also the option of taking out EZ-Charge membership, which gives you access to slightly cheaper rates of 30p/kw (roughly 8.5p/mile) daytime and 25p/kw (roughly 7p/mile) overnight (midnight to 7am).
Membership costs £8.85 a month and also gives you access to a booking system – giving you the ability to book your charger ahead of time and be sure it’s available for you when you need it. For more details about the EZ-Charge membership and app visit www.ez-charge.co.uk.
All of this is compared with around 22p/mile if you still drive a petrol or diesel car (Source: www.gov.uk./guidance/advisory-fuel-rates).
This again varies hugely depending on what electric vehicle you have, type of charger etc. Modern electric vehicle’s have a range somewhere between 150 and 300 miles, so depending how far you normally drive, you are likely to need to charge somewhere between a couple of times a week to a few times a month. It is also well observed that electric vehicle owners adapt their charging habits to suit their lifestyle.
This varies hugely depending on what electric vehicle you have (and therefore what rate of charge it accepts) and on the type of charger – there is no simple answer. However, the chargers in the Park and Charge hubs will be ‘smart’ and will work from 7kW up to a maximum of 22kW. The power will be fixed by the charger depending on time of day and EV hub capacity, and as a guide:
- At 7kW (typical overnight charging) you will get 25 (approx.) miles for every hour plugged in
- At 11kW (normal daytime charging) you will get 50 miles (approx.) for every hour plugged in
- At 22kW (maximum charging rate) you will get 75 miles (approx.) for every hour plugged in
No, the EZ-Charge chargers are designed specifically for electric cars, vans and motorbikes and are not an appropriate charger for lower power vehicles such as e-bikes or mobility scooters, which are normally charged with a regular three-pin plug.