EO – or Electricity Online – was set up in 2015 to make EV charging simple and reliable. The fast-growing UK company now designs and manufactures EV charging stations and smart software for homes, fleets and destinations. In this week’s Mobility Moments we talk to Charlie Jardine, EO Charging’s Founder and CEO.
What is EO Charging’s back-story?
We started developing products in a barn on my grandfather’s farm in Suffolk and after 12 months our first EV charger was born – the EO Basic. Within months we had secured numerous orders and we were looking to expand across the UK.
We’ve come a long way since then! Our technology is now used by many of the world’s biggest businesses and fleet operators. We’ve also expanded our services. We don’t just design and manufacture charging stations, we’ve also built cloud-based charge point management software for homes, fleets and destinations and provide end-to-end fleet electrification solutions.
Our ambition is to become the global leader in charging electric car and van fleets. We already serve customers in 35 countries across the world – we’re growing fast and we’re proving we can win and successfully service contracts with big businesses and fleet owners.
Describe the EO Genius and its key benefits?
We’ve taken a slightly different approach to our competitors, the EO Genius is a truly modular charging system that can scale alongside a growing EV fleet. In simple terms, we’ve put the smart charging technology into the EO Hub – it’s a separate unit, imagine it as the brain of your charging infrastructure.
Fleet managers can connect up to 30 chargers to the EO Hub making the system more cost-effective as you scale up the total number of EVs. We understand that the transition to electric will be a gradual process and so we’ve created future-proof charging infrastructure that can grow in parallel with your business.
In the background, the EO Genius is powered by our industry-leading software and the EO Cloud – our charge point management platform designed specifically for fleet owners. The platform provides a holistic view to your charging infrastructure and can integrate with existing vehicle systems such as telematics providers.
Describe your project in Australia
Whilst our primary focus remains on key markets such as the UK and Norway, we’re also seeing expansive growth in new territories around the world – Australia being one of them. Whilst the percentage of EVs as new car sales in the country remains low, we’ve managed to secure a number of large contracts (both with local government and businesses).
In November 2019, we partnered with Queensland authorities to install the first 12 electric vehicle charging stations across six popular tourist locations in the region, creating Australia’s first ever ‘electric vehicle tourist drive’. It’s a very exciting step for Queensland and we hope it will demonstrate that tourism can generate change.
What challenges lie ahead for fleet electrification?
Long-term it’s about having a strong charging infrastructure base to move from traditional fuel vehicles to EVs both for consumers and commercially. There is also the question of who is responsible for this infrastructure – is it central and local government, businesses or individuals?
The private sector is doing a lot to get on with it and our strong sense recently is that fleet owners are very keen to progress their electrification plans. There will undoubtedly be issues where local or central government need to take a bigger role, particularly in areas of low demand where there is less commercial sense for the private sector to invest.
We’re starting to see momentum on this front but we’re yet not at the level we need to be to comply with ambitious climate change targets.
What more can the UK government do to promote the adoption of EVs?
We’re definitely heading in the right direction in the UK and the government has shown some commitment to the growth of the EV market, not least with its proposed plans to ban the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035. But there is still a lot more government can do to promote EV adoption.
How it handles Brexit is an initial vital hurdle that could have a considerable impact on the affordability of EVs and it is something they should be managing carefully to protect the success we’ve seen so far.
We need to increase investment in infrastructure in all cities and rurally so that consumers and fleets are able to travel far and wide. This isn’t just a role for central government by any means but they certainly bear some responsibility for driving EV infrastructure, which in turn will drive adoption.
The government also has a role to play in reducing upfront costs. At the moment, there is still a feeling that the initial cost of an EV is too high, and while there are constantly new entrants coming to market such as MG, Hyundai and Kia and prices are becoming more competitive and varied, there is still work to be done to reduce upfront costs or the perception of them.
And finally, I think government has an important role in ensuring consumers have adequate awareness and knowledge of EVs. If the government wants to support the EV industry it must help to instil confidence that electric is not just a technology for the future, it is a technology for now.
What impact has the pandemic had on the perception and adoption of EVs?
During lockdown, the environmental impact of the reduction of traffic on roads was phenomenal. This was a real eye opener for many and I think gave people pause to reflect on what needs to be done to protect the environment going forward.
From our perspective, we have seen a significant bounce back from fleet owners looking to accelerate their electrification plans and I hope that continues. There are certainly positive signs in the wider market: the latest figures from SMMT (the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) show a 37% rise in the production of battery electric vehicles year on year, and it’s encouraging to see EV production bucking the overall trend in vehicle manufacture.