EO Charging is a company on a mission; to electrify fleets. It is ramping up its deployment and targeting continued movement into international markets.
Having made a number of high-profile partnerships in the past year - including with Octopus Electric Vehicles, Moixa and the London Electric Vehicle Company - it is now also exploring technologies such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G).
Current± spoke to EO Charging's founder and CEO, Charlie Jardine, about V2G, when to recommend upgrading the power supply to fleet operators and targeting a doubling of sales year-on-year.
What process do you go through when working with businesses to install chargers on their sites?
Before you even consider putting EVs into a depot you’ve got to do an onsite energy analysis.
By doing that onsite energy analysis we can understand how many charging stations we can actually put into a depot, for instance, as well as how may charging stations are needed to charge these vans sufficiently over the period of time that they’re back onsite and plugged in. We understand the size of the power supply, the utilisation of the supply over time - typically six or 12 months - how many miles a day the vehicles do and when they come back to the depot how long they plug in for.
From understanding all that data we can then propose that you get can 50 charging stations on that site, or if you have a smart charging system that’s got load management then you can probably get 50 plus an extra 20 before you then have to contemplate going and upgrading your power supply.
How often do you find you're needing to recommend upgrading power supply?
I think where we are today, a lot of these big fleet depots can get a meaningful number of charging stations and vans in before they have to contemplate upgrading their supply.
At the point in which they’ve got to do that, as a fleet operator for a company they’re going to have to assess if they want to spend the money upgrading the supply or if they want to look at alternatives, which are to potentially put things like battery storage and renewables on the site.
It’s a really deep problem to solve. There’s so much to it and we’re just at the start. We’re trying to build a business looking to focus on enterprises. We’re also looking at technology like vehicle-to-grid (V2G), and we think that V2G makes real sense in a fleet environment. We won some money from Innovate UK last year in a consortium with Arrival, the electric van manufacturer, EDF and Oxford University and we’re this year putting 100 electric vans and V2G charging stations inside ten depots from some fairly large fleet operators.
The interest for us is, practically, does V2G work? We think it does, because you’ve got a known quantity of vehicles with a known dwell time and a known electricity requirement and actually, that’s quite easy to work with.
Do you then anticipate V2G becoming commercially viable in the near-term?
I think it’s dependent on so many different things. For one, do the car companies allow V2G?
You’ve then got people like us doing the charging side and software side, again working on can we actually do this and does it make practical sense? Is it going to mess up the way you use your vehicle or interfere with your day? We have to learn about that.
And then what is the actual value; how much money can we save or make? In order for that value to be realised you’ve got to have alignment from regulation that there’s going to be a market to sell electricity, and I think the challenge there will be that each country is pretty different. The UK is very different to Germany, which is very different to America. So, I think it’s definitely going to happen. It’ll start to happen slowly, but the real value will only be realised after probably five years.
What is EO Charging’s ambition in the long term?
We’ve got a pretty aggressive roadmap. Last year we sold just over 11,000 chargers and this year we’ll do anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000. That’s looking to double or triple year-on-year for the next five years. Around 60% of that is international and 40% is in the UK.
We like the international approach, there are a handful of countries where we’ve got first mover advantage; places like Australia, Thailand, Iceland where we’re one of only a handful of companies in those markets. For us, what we want to do is have a handful of territories where we’ve got a good market penetration that it spreads the risk.
So our aspirations are very much global. We’ve got business in India and looking at China for this year and also thinking about the US. All in good time, really.
What are some of the differences between deploying charging in countries such as India and the UK?
Here is easy compared to India; it’s definitely a foreign territory for us. What we’ve learned is India is a market that is dominated by local Indian players. They can manufacture charging stations; they’ll catch up on software.
In terms of UK, the market is still immature but it’s grown very quickly. We’re very much focused around fleet charging and I think 2020 will be the year where exponential growth will actually happen. That will come mostly from companies, with businesses now adding EVs and PHEVs onto the company fleet schemes and the change to Benefit in Kind taking place in April. From an employee perspective, the cost parity of driving electric vs diesel is basically there.
We’re all conscious of the environment and we’re more conscious now than ever before, I’d say. But now the commercial case stacks, that’s a double attack and I think especially in the business sector you’ll see massive adoption of EVs, which for us is really exciting as that’s where we’ve focused the development of the hardware and software.