Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has expressed his desire to make a British electric car charge point that becomes as “iconic and recognisable as the British phone box”. Speaking this week, Shapps said the new charge point would be unveiled at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed the appointment of the Royal College of Art (RCA) and PA Consulting to help deliver an “iconic British charge point design”. It’s hoped the rollout of the completed design will make charge points “more recognisable” for drivers and help to “create awareness” of electric vehicles (EVs).

When the government reveals the new design at COP26, it says it will also call on other nations to “accelerate” their transition to electric vehicles. It says that, along with phasing out coal power and stopping deforestation, will be “crucial” to keeping warming at 1.5°C.

Charging logo on asphalt (image source: own photo by Stefan Leichsenring)

Here in the UK, demand for electric vehicles is growing. The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show more than 85,000 new electric cars were registered during the first seven months of 2021. That’s up from just over 39,000 during the same period last year.

As a result, electric vehicles boasted an 8.1-percent share of the new car market during the first half of 2021. In comparison, the market share during the first half of 2020 stood at just 4.7 percent. And if you include plug-in hybrid cars, which are capable of driving short distances on electric power alone, the market share shoots up to 12.5 percent.

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 charging

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he hoped the new charge points would help encourage drivers into electric vehicles.

“Excellent design plays a key role in supporting our transition to zero emission vehicles, which is why I want to see EV charge points that are as iconic and recognisable as the British phone box, London bus or black cab,” he said. “With less than three months to go until COP26, we continue to put the UK at the forefront of the design, manufacture and use of zero emission vehicles and their charging infrastructure, as we build back greener and call on countries around the world to similarly accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.”

Meanwhile, Clive Grinyer, the head of service design at the RCA, said the new charge point would be “usable, beautiful and inclusive”, creating an “excellent experience” for users.

“This is an opportunity to support the design of a future icon that will be part of our national culture as we move towards a sustainable future,” he said. “The RCA has been at the forefront of shaping our products, mobility and services for the last 180 years. We are delighted to be playing a role in the design of the total service experience to ensure a usable, beautiful and inclusive design that is an excellent experience for all.”