SHOULD Oxford have petrol station-style electric charging points for cars in the future?

That was a question posed during an Oxford City Council scrutiny committee meeting as the next steps to introduce more electric vehicle chargers was discussed.

The Go Ultra Low Oxford pilot scheme has seen two main projects to introduce electric vehicle chargers in the city tested.

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The first was installing charging points placed on residential streets across the city, allowing drivers to charge their cars as they are parked at the pavement.

The second is a scheme aimed at encouraging the uptake of electric taxis, with four rapid-charging points for hackney carriages licensed in Oxford, which have been installed at Manzil Way, off Cowley Road.

As the scrutiny committee considered the future for electric vehicles in the city, green councillor Craig Simmons asked what the best way for scaling up the scheme might be in coming years as electric cars become more popular and more chargers are needed.

Mr Simmons said: "The one question I think the report does not answer, which is maybe out of scope, is this balance between centralised charging infrastructure and these distributed charging points."

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Craig Simmons, a green city councillor and current Oxford Lord Mayor.

He suggested centralised rapid charging points might look something like petrol stations, with motorists driving in and 'filling up'.

A council officer said the question did need to be considered in the future, as providing charging at the equivalent of a petrol station would likely be cheaper.

But the officer added it was too early to tell what the future path should be yet.

Mr Simmons added: "We need to think about that before we invest any further."

Plans for a centralised 'Super Rapid Charging Hub' are part of the next steps for the project outlined in a report to the committee.

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The proposed superhub would be made up of more than 20 ultra-rapid electric vehicle chargers for public and business use, similar to the petrol station model discussed by councillors.

Also discussed by councillors at the meeting was the affordability of electric cars.

Labour councillor Joe McManners asked: "How can we consider the problem that people who live in richer areas are going to be using them? How can we equalise the opportunity, if not the outcome?

"It is something to be thinking about sooner rather than later."

Other next steps for Go Ultra Low Oxford include ending the pilot, with plans to install up to 100 more street side chargers.

The areas of the city where the most on-street chargers have been placed are the post codes OX2, covering Summertown, Osney and Wolvercote, and OX4, covering Cowley, Iffley, Littlemore and the area of the city around Cowley Road.

Councillors recommended that charging points for electric bikes should also be installed in Oxford in the future.

They discussed how this could encourage more people to cycle in hilly areas, like Headington Hill.