BT Group powers up first EV charger from street cabinet

The start-up and digital incubation arm of BT Group, called Etc., has powered its first electric vehicle (EV) charging unit built from a street cabinet traditionally used to store broadband and phone cabling.

The site in Haddington, East Lothian, marks the first phase of a project which could see the wider upgrade of BT Group-owned cabinets, traditionally used to store broadband and phone cabling, turned into charge points across the UK to address the shortfall in public EV charging points.

The charger will be for the use of local residents, who will be able to charge their electric vehicles at no cost for a limited time throughout the pilot. Users can access the charge point  by downloading the trial app from the App Store or Google Play Store. 

The app, which has been designed and developed by BT Group in consultation with EV drivers, includes the features they most want to see including visibility of EV charge points from across the UK. It will also inform on real-time price, availability and charge speed, the ability to start, stop and monitor charge sessions via the app and to filter by connector type, kW speed and charging network.

Electric vehicle owners will also be able to connect their EV to the app to get live updates on battery levels, estimated costs and charge times, and access to charging history at a glance. Throughout the pilots, BT Group will test elements ranging from the digital customer experience to engineering and technology choices, operational and commercial options.

With 5,052 public electric vehicle chargers predicted to be operational in Scotland, BT Group has identified up to 4,800 street cabinets that could be used for potential upgrade in Scotland to meet increasing demand.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport at Scottish Government, Fiona Hyslop, said: 

“This is an exciting and innovative development in the provision of electric vehicle charging so I’m really pleased that the first trial in the UK is taking place in East Lothian. 

“This government is committed to supporting people to make the switch from petrol and diesel vehicles, and our vision for Scotland’s future public EV charging network highlights the need for private sector finance and delivery to build on our significant investment in the network to date.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing more partnership working like this as we continue to help people in Scotland to make greener transport choices.”

Tom Guy, Managing Director, Etc. at BT Group, added: 

“We are delighted to launch the first phase of our pilots in Haddington, East Lothian working with the local council, to provide this electric vehicle charging point for local residents.

“Our research shows that 78% of petrol and diesel drivers see not being able to conveniently charge an EV as a key  barrier to purchasing one.  We want this to change. 

“It’s critical that we all start to play our part in looking at existing infrastructure to drive innovation at speed to support government set sustainability targets.  We’re proud to be partnering with local councils across the UK as part of this trial, which presents a unique opportunity to tap into existing assets to drive the important transition to electrification in the UK.”

Norman Hampshire, East Lothian Council Leader said: 

“East Lothian Council has a strong track record of supporting innovative vehicle charging solutions in public places to accelerate the transition to an electric future. During the design of this trial we worked with BT Group to ensure the charger would be fully accessible, and that trailing cables would not get in the way of pedestrians and others using the pavement. 

“We are pleased that BT Group is supplementing the wide range of public chargers in East Lothian as this allows the Council to focus on its public service role of providing charging options in areas less attractive to commercial operators. Use of electric vehicles supports the council’s ambitions to reduce emissions, promote sustainable travel solutions and enhance the local environment.”

The next BT Group Electric Vehicle charging trial location will focus next on West Yorkshire, with the business hoping to roll the trial out to up to 600 sites across the UK.

Image courtesy of Jeff-Holmes-and-BT-Group.

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