At CleanTechnica, our purpose is to keep readers informed of the true facts about renewable energy, EVs, and all things clean and green. So, when we heard about a new startup in the UK, “EV Driver Ltd,” which provides Level 2 electric vehicle charging to homes and businesses, it clearly seemed like a company for us to write about.
The following is a discussion I had with Charlie O’Donoghue, the company’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
“Hi Charlie. The purposes of CleanTechnica and your own, in wanting to promote EV adoption, coincide here, so we would be delighted to write about your company and the event you are organizing.”
Thank you so much; I am so thrilled to hear that you guys are interested. We are trying to do some cool stuff to get people going with the electric vehicle revolution.
“So, before we talk about the event you are organizing, the Electric Vehicle Experience Day, perhaps you would like to provide more details of your history as a company.”
So, we were founded in 2016 by Linda Grave and her business partner at the time. Linda bought out her business partner at the beginning of this year, and we sort of reset. We consider ourselves in start-up phase. Since the launch of the company, we have installed 12 commercial chargers in public car parks. We operate these with the cloud solution provided by Fortum, namely Charge & Drive Management Cloud. We have done numerous home and workplace installs, but we are keen to grow the network and represent the East of England as the charging network to go to. I joined the team in September last year, and am now involved in the business from the ground up, as Chief Technology Officer.
“Could you expand a bit on the Fortum Charge & Drive Management Cloud? What does it do for you? How does it work? Why did you choose it?”
CDMC is the cloud management platform we use to operate the chargers remotely. It collects information, such as usage details like kWs used and whether a charger is functional or not. It can do a lot, and I can go into an in-depth rabbit-hole about it, but I think if I just say it is a charge point operation platform, most will be able to google that if they really want. We chose CDMC because, at the time, there were only a few of these platforms out there that could take payment from end users for their charging sessions. This is what attracted us to the platform as we felt that the business case of providing free charging was not the future, and we wanted to be at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution.
“Yes, that gives me a better idea of it. As soon as you mentioned it, there was this big question mark flapping round my head which I had to deal with. So, there is the physical charger, and this is like the bridge between you and it that gives you all the information and control you need. It’s all clear to me now.”
“So, Charlie, next question — how is the company different from others in the charging business?”
We have now launched our latest product called CaaS, or charging as a service. We have found businesses don’t want the upfront cost to install chargers nor the hassle of operating them, and handling customer service. So we do all of that for a daily service fee. We have found a good response to this offer, and are finding more people inquiring. We will be helping people take the plunge of getting the car, and then just paying for their ‘Netflix’ charging service. Currently we are in a client growth stage, and are targeting workplace car parks, hospitality, and retail parks to name a few. Basically wherever cars park!
“You mentioned earlier that you are setting up a promotional event, the Electric Vehicle Day, in Suffolk, on the 4th of Oct 2018. Perhaps you would like to tell us about that, and I am sure that some of our UK readers would be interested to attend.”
This event is aimed at creating interest in the whole EV space. From driving to charging. We want people to be able to break down the electric barrier by having a day where everything is all around them.
Our business customers are coming to look at their future fleet choices, and these are really varied, as they include — a national food delivery company, a port, and local councils.
Whether they want cars, vans, scooters/motorbikes, or rickshaws, we will have a selection of all to try on the runway!
The charge points will be working (charged by a mobile 90kVa sun filled battery) and on display, so we can demonstrate just how easy it is to switch to electric. Fundamentally, we want people to get into a car, try charging one, and generally get some exposure to what all these things cost, and be able to ask as many questions as they can. So we have real EV owners coming too, thanks to the Tesla Owners Group UK and other EV owners.
Dealerships will let you drive the cars, and show them off to their full capacity on the runway (where Top Gear did!) We have an operations background and know that things need to be tested/felt to be believed in.
“That sounds really good. I hope you do really well. What are your plans for the future?”
We aim to expand our charging network as number 1, and from there expand into providing synergistic services like usage stats and so on for an ecosystem concept such as home, workplace, and commercial all under one roof so people can see it all. However, unlike other services out there, we are not vertically integrated.
CaaS is all about service, and we believe this has been lacking in the EV charging space. The idea is to enable the host site/customer to make their own network by choosing the charge points that are right for them (obviously, we help with the choices), the fee that is right for them, and this is all taken care of by us. So, they get customers because their charging service is in top order and looks, operates exactly as they would like it to with 24/7 customer service helpline just in case.
This even comes down to advertising, and doing promotions like turning the charger onto free charging on world environment day, or half price at weekends.
So, if you like, we aim to create a cooperative network fuelled by our positive collaborative mindset, all the while serving the most important person — the EV driver. We are already members of Plugsurfing, and Hubject, and are always trying to find willing partners to share networks so everyone can access charging points and not have to worry if they have right card, etc.
“It all sounds great. Thanks for talking to us, and letting us know about your event in Suffolk on 4 October. I hope it is as big a success as last-year’s event. I think the opportunity for people to drive electric vehicles on the test track is going to be really popular. Generally, once people have driven an electric vehicle, anything else is hard work and nothing like as much fun.
“We also wish you well in your business. The provision of destination charging is a very important bridge to electric vehicle adoption. I know if I am going on a journey anywhere, I will always look for Level 3 charging on route, but at the destination it is great to be able to park up, and plug in to Level 2, to get a nice gentle charge up to 100% while I’m doing what I came there to do.
“I’m so glad you got in touch with us, Charlie: it’s always inspiring to see other people doing all they can to make the green revolution happen. Thank you so much.”
If any of you want to book a free ticket for the event or join in, click here.
For the avoidance of any doubt, this is not a sponsored article. We are promoting this event and this company as part of our mission to accelerate EV adoption in any way we can.
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