What came first the electric vehicle or the charging network? The EV market is ready to explode, but a lack of public charging points is stopping this from happening. Auto Futures has been talking to Connected Kerb – a start-up helping to build the UK’s charging infrastructure.
We’re currently in a transitional period, and governments are not investing anywhere near as much as they should be due to the early adoption stages of EVs, while consumers are put-off buying an EV due to the lack of charging stations.
So how does a city like London solve this? Well, it seems like the private sector is the answer. To find out more, Auto Futures editor Alex Kreetzer interviewed a number of Connected Kerb’s executives to understand the different driving factors needed to achieve a greener city.
First, we talked with Peter Howe, Chairman and one of the founders of Connected Kerb, who was first shown the solution for on-street residential charging 18 months ago.
“All I could see out there were very clumpy rapid chargers which the councils hated and looked hideous, but they were needed,” he says. “When I first saw this new solution, which is a low impact, low-cost residential street charging system that doesn’t add to the street furniture, I loved it.”
Connected Kerb was formed in November 2017. Shortly after, it won a prestigious award for urban innovation, which sparked partnerships with the likes of the National Grid and Shell, enabling the London startup to roll out its first pilot site. Howe says that, since then, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
“Early on, we met with Maidenhead Council Leader Simon Dudley in Windsor, who owns two EVs and is very supportive. That area is quite a wealthy borough where you would expect early adoption of EVs, which makes it a very suitable residential site. It’s been an amazing response since launch.”
One of the main issues for funding all of this is down to the councils’ lack of funds. There are certain central government funds available but, as Howe states, “it’s really not even a grain of sand for the amount of desert we need.”
It is imperative that companies like Connected Kerb get the traction they need to support EV adoption. And this won’t happen unless the government backs up its claims of a cleaner city with the money needed.
“It is going to come down to the private sector, and this should be from the motor manufacturers, power companies, telecom companies, utility companies and companies like us making sure that there is private funding for this change,” adds Howe.
This is a brand new market where everyone is struggling to identify the winners and losers, which has led to a lot of money being spent in the wrong areas. In turn, this has made the government very wary, taking a much slower approach.
Fundamentally, this market will be consumer-led, as the residents of these EVs will drive the take-up. Once consumers realise they can buy an EV for less than petrol alternatives, save significantly on running costs and drive through ultra-low emissions zones, the government will be forced to invest in incentives and make companies like Connected Kerb grow at the speed they need to.
“For this reason,” says Howe, “I absolutely don’t believe that the move over to EVs is going to be government- or industry-led. It’ll come from the consumer.”
We’ll have more from Connected Kerb over the coming weeks.