Whilst less than 10% of cars on the roads in the UK are company-owned, companies account for over 55% of new car sales. As they increasingly transition their fleets to electric vehicles (EVs) therefore, their choices can have a significant impact on the second-hand EV market and the wider push to decarbonise transport.
But there remain challenges around such large-scale adoption, including a lack of awareness of the opportunities EVs present and the infrastructure required to switch.
To ease this transition, Dan Eyre, Jon Horsfield and Tristan Dodson set up software start-up Diode, which is designed to make EV infrastructure easy to implement. Since it was launched, Diode has partnered with the likes of Co Charger and Tusker.
Current± caught up with Horsfield to discuss how Diode is making it easier for businesses to transition to EVs.
Where did the idea of it come from?
I worked as a head of sales at one of the UK’s biggest manufacturers of EV charging, looking after homecharge, fleet and leasing in the UK, then also taking on the Norwegian market too.
It was the time I spent working in Norway that really inspired the creation of Diode. At the time, new EV sales in Norway had already surpassed 30% of all new vehicles sold. But, and this is a big but, it was and to some extent still is driven in the main by government policy and tax incentives, meaning that the knowledge gap was vast, especially with businesses.
The initial inspiration for Diode came from a meeting we had in Norway with a large franchised restaurant group. We were invited by a partner of ours, of which they were already a customer, to meet with them and pitch for the installation of EV charging.
Immediately however, it became obvious that we didn’t have the right solution for them, from a hardware and software functionality point, even down to the right language (we only had an English language app and literature at the time).
On top of this, the customer didn’t know what they needed, didn’t understand their options for EV charging, and in truth, even though the percentage of new car sales was already high, they didn’t know which of their drivers or their routes are best suited to EV. And, they didn’t know how many other employees would likely switch either.
They were wholly reliant on us, a business with the ability to sell one brand and an incentive to just sell as many units of that brand as possible, and crucially with very little understanding of their business.
Where consumers tend to only need convincing of the benefits of switching to EV, businesses need to be able to plan, understand their options for many vehicles at once, whilst at the same time help their employees on their own EV journey.
This categorically has to be routed in data, and better yet, the business’s own data. We just help them uncover this information and analyse it.
What are the key considerations for choosing which vehicle charge points will be best?
It’s all about understanding what your needs are. For home charging, it comes down to features. 7kW is the standard now because it’s fast enough to fully recharge a car overnight. Any faster would usually require a very expensive upgrade to your domestic power supply.
Plus, you’d need to be doing over 200 miles every single day to warrant any faster, and at that point you’d probably be topping up on the rapid charging network anyway. But home charge points now offer a number of different smart features worth considering, such as, smart charging to charge when electricity is cheapest or connecting to your solar PV array. But remember, your car might also provide some of these features as well.
And for workplace charging that’s a little more complicated. It’s really important to understand the needs of your employees and fleet vehicles when deciding what to install.
Understanding how many people will need to charge, how often and for how long is critical. And all this will change over time as EV adoption rises. And then once you’ve decided what you need, there’s also the question of whether you’ve got the supply capacity to serve it. Unfortunately, every business is different and there’s no one size fits all charge point solution.
How do you think software is enabling a greater rollout of EV chargers?
Software can really help individuals and businesses understand their own needs. EVs are a new technology and there are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there. Software can crunch the numbers to take the heavy lifting out of answering the difficult questions like how many change points do I need, and what power, and what’s the business case.
Software can also help to streamline the installation process as well. We see businesses can make big savings on workplace charging by doing a proper tender process, but doing this on their own takes a lot of time and effort. The Charge Platform, for example, can join up the dots to make this process much for automated and efficient.
Good question! The most exciting thing we’re working on at the moment is our pipeline. This will essentially be our innovative driver readiness survey and report made available to individual drivers.
They’ll have access to everything they need to know about EVs: their access to charging, costs and CO2 savings compared to their current vehicle, plus an interactive tool to assess how different EVs would fit into their lifestyle based on their specific driving behaviour. As with all our software tools, we’ll be offering this as a white-labelled solution to our partners.