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Transport Pathfinder Innovation Programme – Aging Society & EV charging

By June 22, 2023No Comments


The last decade has seen a rapid growth of EV and with that the need for recharging facilities. In May 2023 16.9% of new cars registered in the UK were electric, whilst in Norway over 80% of new cars registered are now all electric!

Early phases of new technology introduction are characterised by early adopter’s influencing the direction as they are the first to use and feedback.

The EV and recharging sectors have only recently started to move from the “early adopter” to “early majority” stage were a wider demographic of users start to engage with the technologies and it’s at this stage any new technology needs to reconsider the user in its hardware design.

Only recently the BSI published guidance (PAS 1899:2022) advising design approaches to improve accessibility of public charging.

At the same time the population of the UK are getting older. Over 18.6% of the population were 65+ at that last census in 2021.

Electric vehicles provide a wide range of opportunity to support people; maintain independence and have an active and joyful life at every age.

According to Age UK, driving remains the most common form of transport for older people in the UK, with 68% of households where someone is aged 70+ having their own car. Public transport often does not meet the needs of many older people so EV charging design now needs to listen to the requirements of the “early majority”, adapt and fulfil the needs of these new user groups for electric vehicles to deliver their full potential.

About Us

Hangar19 is an engineering company focusing on EV charging equipment and sustainable energy solutions. We’ve been developing EV charging points since 2009 and today provide a wide range of services in the UK and abroad.

We operate charge points under our Park&Recharge brand where we come into contact with drivers of every demographic. We develop charge points, internal & ancillary control systems and have worked on some of the UK’s most innovative EV charging projects (wireless charging, Bi-directional/V2G, integrated heat/power/EV).

The Project

EV charging comes in many shapes and sizes and there have been numerous ‘technology’ projects that look at new ways to delivery power to the vehicle. The dominant mechanism for recharging an EV battery is through an electrical connection to the vehicle – a charging cable connected between the charging point and the EV to transfer power.

Most of the UK charging points have a ‘type 2’ connector and a driver will carry a cable in their vehicle that they plug into car and charge point when they want to recharge the vehicle.

Recent research has focused on accessibility to charge points delivering guidance for charge point developers on the position of charging sockets and the physical access space between vehicle and charge points.

Through supporting drivers with our Park&Recharge CPO service we had heard a number of stories (and ingenious solutions!) relating to the challenges older drivers face when charging their vehicle. A little research showed that charging cables typically sell with no information regarding their weight and the ergonomic design of the gun/connectors showed little variation with options for those with lower physical strength or balance issues. We had also observed that the amount of force you need to apply to insert and withdraw the connector on some charge point socket/gun connections increased over time.

Our project set out to research these issues and then trial solutions to improve the charging experience for older drivers. We’ve engaged real users from the project outset to ensure the voice of the user is front and centre in the design stage.

Recently we presented the project to the RCA’s Design Age Institute as part of their Transport Pathfinder Innovation Programme. We were very excited to win funding through the generous support of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Healthy Ageing Challenge (delivered by Innovate UK) as well as unparalleled design guidance from the DAI team that will help accelerate the project.

Based at the Royal College of Art’s (RCA) Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD), the Design Age Institute (DAI) was established in 2020 to support the UK Government’s Grand Challenge on an Ageing Society. Each of these new initiatives forms part of the Institute’s mission to amplify the voice of people as they age and create a thriving economy for aspirational products and services that support healthy ageing. These products and services will enable individuals and communities to maintain an active and joyful life at every age.

Responding to a growing need for transport options that are safe, affordable, sustainable and desirable for the ageing population, in January 2023 the RCA’s Design Age Institute launched a call-out for innovative transport-focused proposals as part of a new Transport Pathfinder Innovation Programme.

Project Summary:

Timetable: May 2023 – February 2024

Objective: Simplify/Improve the charging experience for older drivers.

Approach: Waterfall engineering design, target user group participation, workshops and real world trials



Contact us today to find out more.