For prospective EV drivers, the lure of cheap home charging has been hard to ignore for some time.
But as EVs become more commonplace across the world the variety of chargers has grown exponentially. For new EV drivers, finding the right one has become a serious challenge.
UK-based company Rightcharge, however, is working to help make the buying process simpler and easier for EV drivers. On this week’s Mobility Moments, Auto Futures spoke to CEO and co-founder Charlie Cook to find out more.
What services does Rightcharge offer to drivers that other rival services don’t?
Where other EV service sites fail to give drivers a joined-up view of charge points and tariffs, Rightcharge pulls the full picture together. The two products form the basis of smart charging, reducing bills by hundreds of pounds and cutting carbon emissions by 25%. However, having one without the other is like a lock without a key.
We’re also bringing customers more choice and confidence when making decisions about their EV. Our independent nature means we can deliver the latest independent advice on all things charge-point and tariff-related and ultimately give drivers access to exactly the right solution for their specific requirements.
Drivers leave Rightcharge confident that they’ve chosen the best charge point for their home, connected with a trusted installation company to fit it, and switched to the best value EV-friendly home energy tariff. Using their smart charger to schedule their new off-peak electricity hours reduces cost and means their car is charging overnight when our grid is cleaner. Better for the planet, better for the bank balance.
With so many home chargers available, do you think that drivers can find it confusing navigating the market?
Yes. To many new drivers, the EV world has a sprawling, confusing landscape. Spotting differences between deals is unclear and this can be frustrating. It’s the reason we started the business. What we’ve done is essentially draw up a better map of the EV landscape for car owners and made it easy to navigate by delivering powerful comparison tools.
It was a no-brainer. Our built-in recommendation engine provides an easy-to-use, like-for-like comparison tool. We ask our customers what they want, and our engine gives tailored answers to compare.
Do you think that the electric charger market will begin to consolidate in the coming years?
The electric charger market is still growing and new solutions are coming to market all the time. If anything, we’ve seen an increase in the options and features available over the last four years. The EV market has gone from as few as four or five hardware solutions, to as many as 50 to 60 different products.
There will always be a future where we’ll need different chargers for different types of customers and already we’re seeing new market segments emerging. These are offering entry-level or budget chargers, through to specialist chargers with features such as solar integration. We’re also seeing more premium options appear offering higher quality and improved aesthetics. Variety is here to stay.
How much room for innovation is there in the home charger market? Do you think the reliance on the National Grid limits the scope for charger development?
I think we’ve only scratched the surface of technological development for home charging. The technology to enable smart charging to become ubiquitous is now in place (i.e. consumers have the ability to schedule their charging against the off-peak hours of an EV-friendly energy tariff.)
The National Grid is unlikely to limit the scope for charger development – in fact, it is likely to drive it. More advanced forms of smart charging are yet to come. In this next phase, we’ll see more sophisticated markets for “demand-side response” emerge. Grid operators, both local and national, will likely offer rewards to consumers willing to take some control of their charging schedule and agree on parameters.
Ultimately, this means drivers will be able to continue to access the same levels of service – i.e., a full charge at a time – while reducing the cost of charging. Potentially even to generate revenue by offering their vehicle as a flexible asset to the National Grid.
Beyond smart charging, the next evolution of home charging technology is likely to be vehicle-to-grid (V2G). This is a very exciting future. One where drivers can sell power back to the grid at times of high prices and make money from their cars while they sleep.
With the British government rolling back on its mandate for every new and existing non-residential building to install an EV charger, do you think this poses a threat to the increased adoption of EVs in the UK?
Government support for EV charging has had a positive impact on adoption. No doubt. But we should also consider the variety of options available to drivers for home charging.
For those with a driveway, charging at home makes EV ownership very simple and easy. This makes workplace charging for around two-thirds of drivers not as important.
Drivers without off-street parking would probably benefit the most from charge points in non-domestic properties, but these drivers do have access to a rapidly growing suite of solutions. These include on-street charge points, lamp post charging, and now an emergence of community charging where homeowners with driveways offer charge points to neighbours.
With the EV market only set to grow, what are Rightcharge’s ambitions for the next five years?
Our goal in the next five years is to become the UK’s leading EV charging platform. Achieving this will mean we have a chance of permanently changing the way drivers charge for the better – reducing bills collectively by billions of pounds and avoiding the emission of 7.5 million tonnes of CO2 (the same as planting 124 million trees).
Our mission is to make smart charging the norm. By 2030 we want to see evidence that the vast majority of EV owners are charging overnight when power is cheaper and cleaner. This minimises the need for investment in our electricity networks which reduces costs to consumers. To achieve this goal, we need to be a leading EV charging partner to the automotive sector.
What do you think the EV charging landscape will look like by 2030?
By 2030, we should see commercial sectors including workplaces and hospitality offering either free or (at a minimum) easy to access charging. We should also see a huge ramp-up in the availability, reliability, and accessibility of publicly available charge points (i.e. more chargers in the ground, rarely offline, and easily accessed by all types of EV driver).
From the perspective of home charging, we expect by 2030 to see the emergence of more sophisticated demand-side response solutions that will reward drivers for allowing some flexibility as to exactly when their car is charged, so long as it’s charged by the time the driver specifies (e.g. when they wake up).
We’ll likely also see vehicle-to-grid (as mentioned above) become a mainstream technology, where 10-15 million electric cars act in unison as a distributed battery storage system to soak up wind and solar power and then pump back into the grid when required. By 2030 our car will be buying electricity low as we sleep and selling high when demand peaks.