Interview with Robin Heap, CEO Zest
Zest is very new. What’s different about you?
It’s true Zest is less than one year old, but the team is very experienced, having already deployed multiple EV charging networks in the UK. We were recently named as one of the “UK start-ups to watch in 2022”, and we are 100% backed by the government’s Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF), so we have very solid foundations.
What is your major focus in the market today?
We are rapidly deploying our network of public charge points, working with landowner partners in the public and private sector. We offer landowners a no-cost managed service, where we provide, install and operate charge points over many years. Landowners have no upfront costs, no operational overheads, and in the case of rapid charge points, guaranteed long-term income.
What problems does this help solve?
The problem with public charge point deployments is that they need to go bigger and go faster, and that in turn means that landowner investment risk must be massively reduced. Our no-cost managed service removes the financial risk for both fast and rapid charge points, and because we are committed to supporting them over the long term, it also mitigates obsolescence risk.
What benefits from your arrangements would you highlight?
At Zest we offer the same simple model for fast and rapid charging. This means that the charge point mix can be blended between fast and rapid chargers according to the dwell time profile of the destination, providing the best solution for drivers as well as for the landowner.
What are the biggest issues for electric vehicle charging in the UK today?
The industry has done well to provide for the early adopter segments – people with driveways and people who need to charge en-route on the major road network. For EV acceptance to reach all in society, it needs to work for everyone – people without dedicated parking, people in rural areas, and people who use a mix of public and private transport.
Can industry collaboration help unlock these opportunities?
Industry collaboration and standardisation translate into how simple charge points are to use. EV charging revolves around the interaction between central systems and three smart devices: cars, phones and charge points. Developments in standards like the Open Charge Point Protocol, which enable systems and devices to seamlessly exchange information, are showing the potential to make things simpler.
How can we help electric vehicle infrastructure achieve its potential in the next 5 years?
As an industry I think we need to do more to educate drivers on the different benefits of going electric. Much of today’s talk of range anxiety and charger anxiety is simply evidence that most people still think with a fossil-fuel mind-set – going somewhere just to fill-up, setting off with less than a full “tank”. We need to help prospective drivers see that EVs are more like phones – you’ll just top them up as you go about your normal routine.
What questions should we ask in your session about charging infrastructure?
For destination charging, there is already evidence that it is good for business. In retail, dwell time and visitor numbers always increase. In hospitality, guests are actively choosing hotels based on charging quality and availability.
Zest is a new venture backed by Zouk Capital and the UK Government’s Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF). Our mission is to democratise EV adoption by rapidly filling the gaps in public charging infrastructure. We’re quickly growing a network that makes fast charging available where people normally park, whether it is on-street, at work, when shopping or at leisure.
For landowners such as local authorities, enterprises and parking operators, Zest removes all of the financial and operational barriers to committing to large-scale charger deployments. This includes everything from planning and installing the chargers to ongoing maintenance.
As a team, we have the experience and engineering pedigree to deliver high quality end-to-end solutions. We believe that by taking action today to improve access to public charging, we can accelerate the shift to EV and help create a sustainable zero carbon future. We’re also committed to renewable energy, and in supporting local suppliers to deliver local solutions.
Robin Heap, CEO is speaking on 14 June at EVCI2022 Focus Day in:
12.30 – 13.15, Robust public charging networks to service consumers and fleets Partner panel
16.00 – 16.50, Destination Charging panel
The team from Zest will be exhibiting on 14 and 15 June.