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Current± Chats: EVBox's Jonathan Goose on the 'real demand' for pre-bookable park and charge spaces

Image: EVBox.

Last month, EVBox announced its partnership with YourParkingSpace to offer electric vehicle (EV) drivers pre-bookable park and charge spaces across the UK.

The intention of the parking platform is to establish the pre-bookable spaces at retail and hospitality locations with the idea of ensuring drivers are never more than 20 minutes away from an available chargepoint, with the wider rollout coming after a trial at Holiday Inn Bicester where five EVBox chargepoints were installed.

Current± caught up with Jonathan Goose, regional director of UK and Ireland at EVBox, to talk about reducing anxiety through pre-bookable spaces, how it is currently "bananas" in the charging business and the recently-launched Everon Business Portal.

It seems that EV charging firms are continuously ramping up activities and becoming increasingly busy - is this something that's also happening at EVBox?

I think in any sort of charging infrastructure business at the moment, it's bananas, because the market is growing at such a massive speed that the demand on new products, and the demand on deployment is huge.

So from our side, it's very busy. We're growing very quickly. To give you an idea of how quick, I've been in the business three and a half years, I think I was employee number 64 and I think we're up to almost 1,000 people now. So it has grown very quickly, and in a good way.

In terms of deployments, we're providing a lot of DC charges at the moment - that's going out to chargepoint operators, people like Geniepoint, Osprey, those types of businesses. And on the AC side, in the UK we're not so much involved in the residential market, we're much more involved in the commercial industrial element, and now because of company car tax being zero on electric cars, everybody's getting it because it's such a massive saving on fuel. So we've got big clients who are starting to buy a lot.

Why was there a need for this sort of partnership with YourParkingSpace?

Generally speaking, we all know there aren't enough chargepoints around the country, be it very fast ones, or even slow ones - apart from at home. The problem is currently if you go to park, typically you'll go in and depending on where you are, you may or may not get a space if you've not pre booked and you may or may not have access in that car park to a charger. If you're lucky, there's a spare space, if you're lucky, it works. And you know, it makes people quite anxious. So the real demand for this type of arrangement is there right now.

The other problem is the number of different chargepoint operators with different cards. There's loads and loads of different ones, and you have to join these different clubs in order to charge and this is adding complication.

So what would good look like? Good would look like a pre-book arrangement, where you know you're going to get a parking space, you know you're going to get a charger, you know the rate you're going to be charged for that and you pay for it through the app. So you're paying for the car park, you're booking the charging, you're paying for the charging, it's all done upfront and it reduces the anxiety of the trip. So that's the attraction of why this partnership came about.

What were the learnings from the trial in Bicester?

The first thing was proof of concept, and they've proved the concept, and they proved the demand is there and so the rollout now is, well, huge.

It's an absolute no brainer to do this type of thing. The motorist gets exactly what they want in terms of arriving and charging.

One of the things we have to do is to make charging just a background thing that you do while you're sleeping or while you're shopping or whilst you're going to the cinema.

Alongside this, you also launched the Everon Business Portal this year. Why was this a product you wanted to focus on?

Charging software is very important. I think people don't understand that it is actually equally as important as the hardware, because if the software element doesn't work properly or it's a bad experience, people won't use the hardware feature because it's too clunky.

So the Business Portal is designed to provide companies with a system in which they can API into their back end, so a lot of companies have got very sophisticated software these days, and it allows them to benefit from all of the processes that will allow their staff, for example, to charge within their staff carparks using our specially designed software.

So typically, it will allow you to do things like reimburse staff for power used, automatic reimbursement we call it. The software provides a really clever dashboard showing where all the charges are, which ones are used, who's charged them, how much John Smith has used in the last month, and a whole load of data and more importantly, CO2 savings. A really good one for fleet managers is how much carbon they have saved, so that software is critical.

We've got a very clever platform called Everon, and then companies like YourParkingSpace, they sit as a tenant on that system and they benefit from all of the pre design that we've got.

Editorial

Alice Grundy Reporter, Current±

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