Mini is demonstrating a new technology that would allow electric vehicle (EV) drivers to charge their vehicles from street lights. The Light and Charge system would also provide efficient LED lighting. The system is being showcased the carmaker's plant in Oxford, UK, as part of Low Carbon Oxford Week.

By building charging points into street lights, it would be possible to integrate a charging network into the existing urban landscape rather than only at existing fuel stations. Not only do street lights typically run along the side of roads, but they are already connected to mains electricity. Furthermore, the charge points can be attached to existing street lighting infrastructure.

This approach could be used to substantially increase the number of public charging stations and has the potential to provide more charging points than there are fuel pumps currently available. The Light and Charge points could be set up at any location where there is a street light (or where one can be installed) and where parking is available.

The units themselves employ a modular LED design. They are more energy-efficient than conventional street lighting and up to four LED modules can be used when required, for example on busy main roads or motorways. Mini says one or two modules will suffice for quieter side streets and residential areas.

To use the Light and Charge points, EV drivers need only connects their vehicle to a standard connector on the street light using a standard charging cable. A control panel on the light allows users to operate the charging unit with the swipe of a card regardless of vehicle model.

Low Carbon Oxford Week runs from June 13-21.