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Current±​ Chats: Alan McCleave on how NewMotion 'won’t stop until everything is interoperable'

Image: NewMotion.

NewMotion has had a busy month, unveiling new partnerships with Aldi, Mazda and Alphabet as it continues to deploy electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

It also released a report examining the current EV landscape, describing roaming as the “backbone” of European charging and identifying the key features of the future.

Current± spoke to Alan McCleave, NewMotion’s UK general manager, to determine what some of these key features are and discuss NewMotion’s interoperability goals.

What were the key findings of the report in your opinion?

I think there’s obviously a big piece in there in terms of the big challenges of local power needs vs balancing the grid because we know there’s plenty of power in the grid. But, if everyone plugs in and charges at the same time, that is going to be a problem no matter which country you’re in.

That’s a common problem everywhere that needs to be addressed, and that leads onto smart charging and things like V2X and V2G (vehicle-to-grid) in terms of our ideas for how to solve that. I think for the UK in particular that’s quite interesting as the UK has been doing some trials of V2G but we’re perhaps a little bit behind other parts of Europe in that grid development piece, with other possible solutions such as frequency based charging or battery storage that could also help.

A large part of the report was focused on how integral interoperability and roaming are. Why is that?

If you go to Europe and you want to drive around, you can have a NewMotion card and you can pretty much charge wherever you want; you don’t have to worry about whose network it is. In the UK, until very recently you had to have around 20 apps on your phone.

That was the difference between having open roaming networks and having closed networks- which is how the UK was. That kind of changed last summer when we signed up our first 15 partner networks. This is about us introducing customers to their charge points and them introducing customers to our charge points.

What are NewMotion’s long term plans for interoperability in the UK?

Our aim with interoperability is to keep growing it. We won’t stop until everything is interoperable in the UK and it follows that European model for how it could work.

It’s going to take a little bit of time to get that. There are some technology constraints on some older network units that were maybe put in years ago before smart charging was available, but we’ve proven with our current partners that it can be done.

It’s now about trying to persuade some of the other big networks out there to join in with that. Whoever owns the charge point gets the money at the end of the day. We’ve seen a massive leap forward for the UK in this and we expect that to continue with more networks coming on board. I think there will be a day in the next few years when roaming will be a normal thing for the UK.

Contactless has started to become the norm for newer charge points, and certainly that’s the route that Shell has gone. But it’s not about us picking whatever the customer’s preferred payment method is; they’ll choose that for themselves. It’s just having a common connectivity that allows customers to move easily.

NewMotion has also announced a number of partnerships recently. How did these come about?

We look to partner with OEMs, leasing companies and large corporates such as supermarkets with a large customer base that need help in terms of charging or advice on how many chargers they should put in and what additional solutions they’d need to manage their charging infrastructure. We’re looking to work with those partners who have significant customer bases who need that kind of help so that we can reach out to them and share our expertise with them.

What’s important isn’t just putting in charge points, but making sure those charge points are futureproof. We’ve seen some large names out there who went into the charging market relatively early that have since been stung by it because they’ve found limitations in terms of those relationships or what they can do with the chargers.

Lastly, what are NewMotion’s long term goals?

Our number one aim is to get as many people driving clean miles as possible. We’re looking to grow our mobility partners, so the likes of Alphabet, Aldi, Mazda; all fantastic partnerships for us to reach lots of other customers that we can help. Clearly we’re looking to do more of that and hopefully we can make some more announcements about that in the not too distant future.

Editorial

Alice Grundy Reporter, Current±

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