Installations of electric vehicle (EV) chargers are beginning to halt amidst new government guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Speaking to Current± yesterday, ubitricity’s managing director Daniel Bentham said they had received communication from Transport for London and the London boroughs that afternoon, and were told that the installation of EV chargers is not considered to be essential work.
“We’ll be pausing the installation of new charge points under the second phase of the Go Ultra Low City Scheme, but we will still be maintaining and conducting repairs and finishing any works which are currently underway,” Bentham said.
Ubitricity provides “all the hardware and services” for Siemens, which then does the installation works for a number of London boroughs under the Go Ultra Low City Scheme. The pair announced the completion of the UK’s first fully electrified residential avenue of lamppost chargers last week, which Bentham said now feels like “a different world almost”.
“We were on the street last Monday doing the photoshoots and the world changed the next day.”
The company is expecting a drop in utilisation in line with petrol stations and public transport, but is working to support its customers as much as possible and make sure the charge points are available “if they do need to travel”, Bentham said.
"We have already worked with our manufacturing base in Berlin and our supply chain going out into Europe and into the Far East. They've been exposed to coronavirus for far longer than we have and so actually the challenge in China and elsewhere around components was felt maybe four or six weeks ago and there's less of an issue now.
"We have plenty of manufacturing capacity, we’re still delivering products to the UK, it's just going to be warehoused now for a short period of time until we can start installing."
Ubitricity was, however, monitoring the risk to supply chains during those weeks, with the prices and the lead times going up for some components. However, those have largely now returned to normal, Bentham said.
Ubitricity isn’t the only EV charging company changing its operations. Charge point operator Pod Point released an update today (26 March), announcing it is pausing all residential installations except those for key workers or those in EV-only households.
It has also halted commercial installations excluding workplace installations where those chargers are used by key workers or drivers reliant on full battery electric cars.
Maintenance work will still be carried out for all existing homecharge customers, the public Pod Point networks and workplace chargers used by key workers.
“Once circumstances allow, we will resume normal business activities as quickly as possible but because the situation is still developing, we don’t yet have a clear timeline for when that will be,” Pod Point said.
It is still open for orders, however, and to schedule installations. Pod Point’s office-based staff are working remotely and its field team is “observing enhanced hygiene and social distancing measures on installation and maintenance visits”.
Elsewhere, BP Chargemaster announced last week it is offering free electricity and public network subscription to the UK’s emergency services.
The EV industry isn't the only one having to put the breaks on installations. Installers of solar PV are also having to temporarily shut up shop due to COVID-19 as uncertainty remains over whether those working on solar farms are classified as key workers.