News item | 2012-02-01 | 11:45 AM

User-friendly charging cable concept for EVs

Is it possible to design user-friendly charging equipment that is easy to use with one hand, even in the dark and without getting dirty?

This was some of the many requirements set up in a student project within the Vattenfall E-mobility R&D Programme last year, which has now been developed into a design concept by a second student project.

The design work has been carried out by the students Axel Tollin and Viktor Åkerblom in the course “Industrial Design Engineering Advanced Course” at KTH, Stockholm, during last autumn.

Digital mock-up from the student project to design a user-friendly charging concept. Photo: Axel Tollin and Viktor Åkerblom.

Charging cable 1. Digital mock-up from the student project to design a user-friendly charging concept. Photo: Axel Tollin and Viktor Åkerblom.

The final design consists of a modular pole with a flexible arm carrying the cable and the light as well as the charging components from the home wall-box system. The pole and arm will be made of extruded aluminum, which has good environmental performance due to the recycling possibilities. Inside the profile of the aluminum pole, a DIN rail is mounted. Attached to this track are all the components found in the prototype Home WallBox, which we have written about in previous issues of this newsletter. The front of the pole is module-based. This means that socket outlets, the Mennekes plug and hanger can be placed where it is the most ergonomic.

Real-life prototype of the charging concept. Photo: Axel Tollin and Viktor Åkerblom

Real-life prototype of the charging concept. Photo: Axel Tollin and Viktor Åkerblom.

The students have also developed the concept into a full-scale functional prototype that has been used for usability testing (but not for charging). Nine persons used the prototype in different test cases and some comments were: “The feature of the light following is smart”, “Will it withstand all external forces?” and “It is no difference to connecting the cable in darkness”.

There is still a long way to a final product, but the results from the project show promising potential. A decision has been taken to continue the project, where the same students will go on with the development during their master thesis project this spring. The continuing work will focus on developing a first technical prototype (i.e. a product that could be used for both demonstration and charging).