2022: Turning up the volume on a quiet EVolution
For most of us, the start of 2022 represented a new year like no other, and the transport industry is no different. Just as the vaccination programme looked set to put Covid-19 firmly in the UK’s rear-view mirror, the Omicron variant arrived on our shores with a bang, triggering further uncertainty for people and businesses across the nation. The semi-conductor shortage and Brexit also continue to place our industry under strain. In the climate change battle, COP26 has been and gone with some progress made, such as the 2040 zero emissions transport pledge, although this was tinged by the failure of some major carmakers and superpower nations to sign the declaration. Despite these challenges, I have more more hope and optimism than ever before. Here is why.
Here at Connected Kerb we are determined to play our role in helping to push the green recovery in the right direction. For us, that means trying to tackle the inequality in access to charging infrastructure that many observers and research reports highlighted pre-Covid. By ensuring lower-income areas don’t get left behind in the EV transition, reaching out to educate communities on EV with our engagement programmes and deploying charge points that can support IoT (such as air quality and parking sensors) and other digital technologies, we hope to deliver an accessible-to-all EV network that will protect the UK’s net zero aspirations. If ‘levelling up’ is what the government wants to achieve, then turning up the volume on our quiet, nationwide ‘EVolution’ will help ensure that electric vehicles can be enjoyed by everyone.
Connected Kerb faces the same pandemic challenges as many businesses. These include budget and resourcing pressures on our friends at local councils, who are now tasked with the challenge of deploying charging infrastructure fit for residents and businesses today and for the long term – a challenge that we’re delighted to say we’re now helping many to overcome. In 2021 we agreed successful long term contracts with councils in Kent, Milton Keynes, West Sussex, Lambeth, Northumberland, Warrington, Coventry, Cambridge and many more, all of whom are pursuing policies of greener, sustainable transport – and by the end of Q1 this year we expect to add more to this list. So it is true to say that Covid has dominated council priorities for the past 2 years, and rightly so, but the appetite and ambition for EV is certainly growing.
Meanwhile, our residential developer clients have risen to the challenge presented by Covid imposed delays to their construction and sales activities and are now looking to prepare for new legislation to provide a minimum level of EV provision in new build properties. The pandemic has reshaped our daily lives from the way we work to the places we go. A significant trend during the pandemic has been an increase in interest from home-buyers for properties in more rural areas. As a result our developer clients are expanding their portfolios in out-of-city locations which in turn will see increased demand for charging infrastructure outside city and urban areas.
As the pandemic has pushed trade out of city centres to edge-of-city retail parks and shopping centres, demand for EV provision from commercial landlords has also increased. The case for this is clear – according to RetailCo Solutions Inc. customers charging an electric vehicle spend up to 50 per cent longer at a retail site, which in turn translates into average increased spending of up to £80. As landlords look ahead to 2050 and plan for the needs of future tenants, they are increasingly focused on Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) issues and achieving net zero – with the provision of long life electric vehicle charging infrastructure a key factor within those plans.
The transition of fleets (large and small) to EV is key to the mass adoption of EVs across society. In a recent survey by Fleet World, more than one in four respondents (27%) cited coronavirus as one of the biggest challenges the industry faces. What did they say was THE biggest challenge? Electrification – particularly for fleet vehicles parked away from centralised depot locations. But their challenge is our collective opportunity to bring a full EV transition to every corner of the UK. That’s why we are in deep conversations with major fleet managers across the country.
Looking at the bigger picture, I am also optimistic. EV sales have increased in 2021 with more battery electric cars registered last year than 2016-2020 combined. Attitudes have started to slowly shift in a favorable direction and I am confident that fears over range anxiety and the cost of an EV will wane as technology continues to improve and manufacturing scale grows. Episodes such as October’s fuel crisis have played a small part in whetting the public’s appetite for electric, although education efforts need to be increased and the reliability of charging networks improved.
With millions of home workers spending more time in their local areas and exploring the pleasures of cleaner air and lower pollution levels, the pandemic has crystallised attitudes toward the environment. Landlords and tenants alike are more conscious of the environment — 78% of potential non-combustion car buyers say that COVID-19 has heightened their level of environmental awareness — and crucially, that awareness is now reflected in intentions to purchase more sustainable vehicles. We will shortly be releasing our major research report which will provide a full picture of what users need and want from their EV and what needs to be done to facilitate uptake.
I have spoken about the need for EV charging to be accessible to all. Aside from the need to facilitate cheaper charging – which we are doing through projects such as Agile Streets, an on-street smart charging trial, bringing agile public charging tariffs to the UK for the first time – we need to make sure charging points cater for the more than a million blue badge holders in the UK with accessibility needs. That’s why we continue to work with disability charities to increase the accessibility of our network as greater accessibility is good for all of us. The Covid recovery needs to be green, but to deliver on our long term carbon goals, it must also be inclusive.
And I know that championing equality means keeping our own house in order. Our workforce of just over 60 boasts talent from across the globe from Brazil to South Africa and New Zealand to France. Of course, we want to do more and certainly the EV industry as a whole needs to do more to recruit more women, particularly into senior positions. I believe it is such diversity which adds a wonderful personality and depth of experience to our business that translates into a personal service for our customers, from our technicians and installers to our account managers and customer service agents. Of course, there will be challenges and bumps along the way like in any business but I am determined, as we grow and expand internationally, not to lose that intimate yet innovative culture which set us on our way, back in 2017. My endeavour for 2022 is to continue to recruit the best talent from every background to make sure we treat every customer like it is our first. Only by doing this and striving to make EV accessible for all, can we turn the dream of a full electric vehicle transition into a reality.
Connected Kerb is one of the UK’s leading providers of EV charging infrastructure solutions which combine power and data at kerbside to deliver convenient, reliable charging and fast fibre connection. Connected Kerb work with councils, developers, fleets and other organisations to provide tailored solutions that will help to accelerate the transition to EVs for all people.
The company has installed 1,000 chargers in 2021 and expects to have 5,500 installed across the UK, with contracts secured for 30,000 more, by the end of 2022. By 2030, the company plans to have 190,000 chargers installed, worth up to £1.9bn.
In 2021 alone Connected Kerb has secured new partnerships for 10,000 public on-street EV chargers across the UK, the majority of which will be deployed across West Sussex and Kent. The West Sussex tender is believed to be the UK’s largest ever deployment by a local authority.
The company is proud to be involved in the UK’s first smart charging trial called Agile Streets. The project aims to bring cheaper charging to EV users using a business model where they can charge their vehicle when energy is cheapest, saving them hundreds of pounds a year.
Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO is speaking on 14 June, Focus Day in:
8.15 – 9.40, Public and Residential EV charging panel
12.30 – 13.15, Robust public charging networks to service consumers and fleets Partner panel
17.00 – 18.20, Funding and Financing panel
Isabel James, Account Director and Ashleigh Braund, Account Director from Connected Kerb will be hosting roundtable discussions with participants on 15 June, Ambassadors’ Day:
15.05-15.50 Hybrid Presentation / Roundtable For Local Authorities
- How to manage power load leveraging the innovation project we’ve been part of, Agile Streets, presenting use cases for it
- Recognising the recommendation around accessibility and how to manage it / handle it.
15.50-16.35 Hybrid Presentation / Roundtable For Residential and Commercial Developers
- How to navigate electric vehicle charging challenges and gain an advantage in the process
- We’ll present a short 10-15 min case use about the Wichelstowe development that we work with Barratt on
The team from Connected Kerb will be exhibiting on 14 and 15 June.