SmartCitiesWorld visits Dundee to see what other cities can learn from its success with scaling e-mobility.
The UK government is aiming to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 and Scotland is targeting 2032. The City of Dundee has upped the ante further and is working to achieve 100 per cent e-mobility by 2030.
It is already making significant strides. In 2018, Dundee was named the ’most visionary city in Europe for electric vehicles’ by the World Electric Vehicle Association.
Dundee City Council has what it claims is the UK’s largest public-sector fleet of electric vehicles (EVs), a 130-strong fleet of electric taxis and one of the most comprehensive charging infrastructure networks in Europe.
The city has a population of 148,000 and can already support 40,000 electric vehicles.
As well as contributing to environmental targets, electric vehicles are also important to Dundee socially and economically.
One issue is the topography of the city. Dundee was built in the ‘bowl’ of an old volcano, meaning emissions do not escape as they would elsewhere.
Dundee used to be famous for three ‘Js’: jute, jam and journalism. Over the last 25 years, industry has changed dramatically in the city.
Fraser Crichton, Dundee City Council, told SmartCitiesWorld the push for e-mobility also fits with Dundee’s reinvention: “Dundee used to be famous for three ‘Js’: jute, jam and journalism. Unfortunately, in the 1950s and 60s, we lost a lot of that jute industry – at one point, one in seven people in Dundee worked [in it] so the economy really collapsed.
“Over the last 25 years, it has really been a recovery and industry has changed dramatically.”
New industries and emerging areas include gaming and e-mobility.
In partnership with SWARCO, Dundee City Council has installed three stand-alone ‘charging hubs’ for electric vehicles. More are in the pipeline, and they will gradually replace the city’s petrol stations. The hubs combine electric vehicle charging capabilities with solar canopies and energy storage.
The hubs were created to support EV taxis – taxis are one of the main polluters in the city – and to address the fact that half the population in Dundee don’t have driveways.
The first hub was intentionally built in Lochee, one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Dundee.
We didn’t want to look as if we were just building infrastructure for the Tesla drivers and the wealthy.
“We didn’t want to look as if we were just building infrastructure for the Tesla drivers and the wealthy, etc.,” Crichton said.
Another hub on top of the city-centre Greenmarket car park uses solar canopies and a battery storage system to charge up 20 vehicles at a time.
“We want people who drive to work, if they have to come into the city centre, to park their electric vehicles here, walk in the small [distance[ to work and then come back at night time.
"[And], what we are looking at is the residents of the city centre putting their electric vehicles here at night and decluttering the city centre. It’s about shifting the electric vehicles about the city to create the low-emission zone.”
In a year, Dundee has seen over 60,000 rapid charging sessions at its three hubs, and reports saving over 450 tonnes of CO2.
Other ideas the city is exploring are pop-up chargers built into the ground to help drivers without access to off-street parking, as well as a pure electric coach, travelling to Glasgow and Edinburgh from Dundee.
Crichton’s takeaways for other cities looking to increase e-mobility? “Look for what assets you have. What can you control and develop in your city? It doesn’t always have to be the same as other ones. Another key one is to do with communication. You really have to start speaking to everybody – all the different partners.”
“The hubs took two years in the planning but they actually only took 13 weeks to build. It’s all about bringing communities, the taxi sector, etc. together to create the infrastructure that the city needs,” he said.
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