Originally published on EV Obsession.
We’ve covered POD Point a handful of times, but I got to interview CEO and Founder Erik Fairbairn a few months ago and haven’t yet gotten around to writing up a story on that. Well, now’s the time.
They are questions I’ve been asked on several occasions, from notable leaders in the cleantech space like Michael Liebreich, to Wharton MBA students: which companies in the EV charging arena look promising, and what are their business cases for success?
These are some of the most difficult questions I get asked regarding cleantech, because it’s quite difficult to really predict what the EV charging landscape will look like in 10–20 years, and surviving this nascent phase of the market doesn’t look particularly easy for anyone. But POD Point is certainly one of those companies that I wouldn’t bet against, and may even put money into.
Erik is a very quick-minded and quick-talking young man, and he has a clear vision for what he thinks the UK EV charging landscape will become. Furthermore, he is quickly making POD Point the leading actor bringing that about.
Before I get into Erik and POD Point’s approach, let me lay out various ideas about what the future of EV charging will look like:
- One idea is that almost all charging will be done at home or work, and most of the remaining charging will be via fast- or superfast-charging stations on long trips.
- Another idea is that fast-charging stations scattered all around town will be used to quickly charge for short periods of time when out and about.
- Another idea is that, as well as home & work charging (and occasional charging on road trips), Level 2 charging at various “hot spots” around the city will be a big & critical part of the EV charging puzzle.
The challenge with #1 is that a large percentage of the population doesn’t have a dedicated parking space at home to plug in. More people can gain that via EV charging stations in parking garages and on the street, especially if provided by the government. But that’s still a big hurdle to overcome, and limits the percentage of the population that can conveniently go electric pretty dramatically.
The challenge with #2 is that fast-charging stations are much more expensive than Level 2 charging stations, and it’s quite difficult for companies to implement a sustainable business model to create an extensive network of these. Furthermore, if people are parked for long periods of time at a location, a fast charge is actually most optimal. Lastly, Level 2 charging is easier on the battery.
Those challenges seem to make a strong case for #3, and that’s the point of view of Erik and POD Point, from what I gathered. They are focusing on Level 2 charging stations in such hot spots.
One notable difference between the US and UK is that Brits drive approximately half as much as Americans, on average. This may mean that Level 2 charging at hot spots can more adequately cover the trips of British drivers who don’t have home or workplace EV charging, or who simply need to charge a bit more on some days between home and work. Such an approach in the US may be more difficult to conveniently implement (without faster charging).
Anyhow, that’s the general story on POD Point’s approach. The news this week from POD Point is that it has become “the preferred supplier of electric vehicle charging solutions for Volvo Car UK.”
Volvo has been a bit slow to get into the electric vehicle transition, but it does now have the V60 T8 plug-in hybrid and award-winning XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid on the market. A plug-in hybrid V90 and S90 should also be on the way, and presumably many other models in the years to come.
The partnership basically offers POD Point Solo charging stations to Volvo plug-in car buyers, at a price of £390, with installation occurring within 10 days.
“POD Point is now also able to help Volvo owners get charging points installed at their place of work and demonstrate the benefits electric vehicles bring can bring to their organisation,” POD Point adds in an email sent to EV Obsession.
“POD Point also partner with Carbon Footprint to offset the first 5,000 miles of electricity for each homecharge POD Point installed, giving drivers time to think about switching to a greener energy tariff.”
Erik added: “We take pride in training and educating plug-in vehicle owners on getting the most out of their electric vehicles. There is a wave of momentum in the EV industry now with many manufacturers producing PHEV’s, and with more than 47,000 plug-in vehicles on the road in the UK already, we are starting to see plug-in cars become the de facto way to drive.”
POD Point has now shipped over 20,000 charging stations and electrified over 12 million miles of driving. Kudos to POD Point, and I look forward to covering the company again.