Homesocial lendingEVC ‘meet the team’ webinar transcript

EVC ‘meet the team’ webinar transcript


Last week two of the EVC directors, Nick Ballamy and Oliver Soper, took part in a webinar where they talked about EVC’s achievements to date, and how they intend to deliver on their vision of installing 100,000 chargers over the next five years.

As part of the session they answered our investors’ questions, which varied from their views on the future of electric motoring, to how their charging systems work for drivers. If you missed the webinar, you can catch up on the questions and answers below.

EVC meet the team webinar — directors

How does installing a commercial EV charger differ from installing a domestic charger?

Nick Ballamy: There are certainly different costs in deploying public infrastructure. The main reason is we are going from a domestic unit to a commercial unit which is going to be used by the general public. New smart charging regulations are now required in domestic locations, that will also increase the cost of installation. However, for public charging points, we are looking at new points of connection and larger infrastructure requirements. That may involve excavation work, getting permission from councils, and also larger charging fees.

A domestic house charger will be from a 3.5kW charger to 7.4kW and typically run from the building supply. For public chargers, they will be upwards of a 7.4kW charger.

How do you see the EV market growing and changing in the next few years?

Oli Soper: Currently, 1.4% of cars on the road are EVs and this is expected to increase to 20% by 2030. That’s around 8 to 10 million Evs, which means there is a material amount of charging, not just to happen between now and 2030, but between now and 2050. The available marketplace is enormous. So yes, there are quite a few companies like us, doing as much as we can. There are some bigger companies looking to buy those already established companies.

Shell and BP are actively looking to try and get a foothold. If your goal is decarbonization of the transportation network, you need multiple small companies to start doing it. You need the entrepreneurs to actually start things and then the bigger companies to carry it on. I really don’t see it as an issue that there are lots of smaller companies. I actually see it as a good thing, as long as we can get the car parks that we want, and at the moment we’re signing them up all the time.

Nick Ballamy: There’s a couple of things that really stand out to give EVC a competitive advantage. It’s all about the service we’re providing, and installing reliable charging points in convenient places. We also work in all sectors. A lot of companies, such as Shell and BP, aren’t working in every sector. They are looking for big urban hubs where everyone’s competing. We are taking a different approach, bringing convenience to people’s lives and putting chargers where they can charge without any time being taken out of their day.

How does EVC ensure that your chargers are reliable and available for when the user wants to charge?

Nick Ballamy: This comes down to the hardware. Before we even entered the market, we actually carried out a global tender for our hardware partner and CTEK came out on top, out of the 18 companies that went through that tender process. The rationale behind that is the reliability. In terms of the maintenance, EVC have our own in-house team as well as strategic partners in all areas of the UK, that allows us the coverage to make sure that we can get back to site to resolve issues if required. Also, we’re not manufacturing our own chargers. We’re taking a charger, that’s been on the market for a number of years, and has been tried and tested and sold for over 10 years. It’s ready for future-proofing rather than trying to keep up with the current market.

Is the Grid capable of balancing the load from all the new EVs expected in the UK?

Oli Soper: There’s a wider consideration that if the UK is to electrify its transportation network, can we get enough grid connections for the EV demand. We’re looking at over 200 gigawatts of installed grid connections, which, based on the fact that we’ve got 70 gigawatts of generation, is just not feasible. The charging network needs to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If everyone gets home from work, charges their car at five o’clock at peak time, and there’s tens of millions of EVs doing that, the Grid is going to trip. So what the grid companies and the DNOs are looking to do is to try to use the charging network as part of the solution.

And most of the requests that are coming from the DNOs is very short term. You just turn off your chargers for 10 minutes, maximum of half an hour. Now, if you’re on a rapid charger, that would be extremely annoying. If you are on a fast charger and your car is plugged in for four or five hours, you’re not going to notice. We have the ability with the majority of the installations that we’re looking at doing to actually be part of that solution, to be part of that balancing.

Is there an issue with the locations you choose in terms of Grid balancing, or is that part of your consideration in the deployment process?

Oli Soper: We’ve come across sites already that we can’t get grid capacity for, it’s not viable to develop them. The grid is not originally designed for 200 gigawatts of new import capacity. There’s a lot of things that the grid companies are trying to do to unlock capacity like they did for the export for renewables active network management type arrangements, where they have some control over the power going in, we expect that become more prevalent. There are areas, particularly inner cities where there isn’t a grid balancing solution available. Just south of London Bridge, for example, you can’t put in a battery, there’s no space to put in anything really, apart from trying to do something with the existing network. And the only thing you can really do with the existing network is charge points.

In those specific locations, UKPN’s got a real problem and they’re looking to the charging providers like us to try and figure out a solution for that, and they’re prepared to pay a reasonably significant amount of money for that balancing service because nothing else is available. We’re sort of targeting it, but we’re not only targeting it because it’s an added benefit to the business over people just paying for charging. It’s a potentially pretty significant revenue stream for us.

What is the charging experience like for a user of an EVC charger?

Nick Ballamy: They’re all fast chargers and they’re type two sockets so any car in the UK can use them. In terms of using the chargers there’s a number of different options. We’re not a closed network and we don’t have any intentions to ever do that. We want to be as open as we possibly can, and we want it to make it as easy as possible for our users to use our network. We currently have an EVC application available, which doesn’t require a user to register. They can use it on a pay as you go or a membership option, and they simply have to scan a QR code and press start charging.

In terms of payment options, you can pay by apple pay or card. We also have, being released this quarter, a payment URL which works in a similar format. This then alleviates the fact that users need to download an application. On top of this we have ambitions and partnerships that are waiting to be announced where we will start integrating with other EV charging networks and other parking management companies. EV charging networks are actually coming together and trying to make it a one stop shop, where people can just use one card or one application to use many different charging points and services across UK.

Does your charging technology work for all types of EVs?

Nick Ballamy: Yes it does. Any type two sockets, which is what most car manufacturers are now producing.

How much of the electricity you use comes from renewable sources?

Nick Ballamy: Any grid connection carried out by EVC will be from renewable sources.

How big is the EVC team? And how long is the process from selecting a site to actually getting the charger in the ground?

Nick Ballamy: We have 26 full-time employees in our head office. That head count has actually been taken up to 32 in August. In terms of our partners, we have outreach of two hundred other contractors and consultants that we are working alongside, so effectively that team of 26 is just managing client relationships and managing our assets in the ground, and then we work with our contracting partners to deliver those chargers.

In terms of those chargers being installed, and how long they take, it can be anywhere from three weeks to get a charger installed up to around three months, if we’re carrying out a new point of connection.

Does your charging technology go both ways? i.e. can the car batteries support the Grid?

Oli Soper: The way that the grid sees a load, if that load is turned off, the grid sees that as the same as a piece of generation, so actually stopping load has the same impact on the grid starting generation. The car batteries are DC, and your plugs in your house are AC. I’m sure the government is going to start legislating for inverters to go into cars and inverters turn a DC into an AC and I know Ford have just started doing it in the US. I think more manufacturers are going to be looking to implement this. So currently we can help the grid by stopping load. In the future, we’ll be able to help the grid by generating also.

Do you have any exclusivity arrangements with any of your clients?

Nick Ballamy: Yes, we do. We have just short of 2000 bays in exclusivity. We are very proud of the number of different locations that we have got under exclusivity and the level of clients we are working with, considering we are such an early market player. To give you an idea there are another five and a half thousand bays that we expect to close in the next three months. And then there are just short of a thousand bays which are waiting, ready for install.

Have EVC already secured all the bays that you are raising for through Abundance?

Nick Ballamy: Yes. And then some.

How accurate have your utilisation figures been in comparison to your targets?

Nick Ballamy: We’ve been working on our model for many, many years in terms of those utilisation rates. We regularly get the question ‘how often do your chargers get used?’. We often see a first charging session on those locations within a couple of days. The reason for that is our marketing team works very closely with our clients, whether it’s a business or residential block, to make sure they are fully aware of the infrastructure going in months in advance of those charge points being installed. That then allows people to commit and purchase vehicles, or if they do understand that the charging points are coming, then they can start using the points straight away. In terms of the different sectors at the moment, we are seeing different levels of utilisation, however, all utilisation levels for all sectors are above the forecasts.

Why have you chosen to deploy fast chargers over rapid chargers?

Nick Ballamy: It’s all to do with power supply and the cost of installation. It’s not feasible to bring into development, 40 rapid charging points to each hotel. There’s not really a requirement there. However, a hotel that needs 40 charging points, that’s the equivalent of having around four rapid charges at a hotel. If you’ve got a 100 or 200 bed hotel, you could put 40 fast charging points in rather than having four rapids. Also in terms of a customer experience point of view, you’ve got 40 guests turning up all in electric cars in the future, and then you’ve only got four points. All of a sudden you’ve got people turning up, plugging their cars in, they go for a drink or a meal and then you can’t then have people at the hotel asking the guests to move their cars, so the next person can jump in that bay. We built our model so that people would always have an accessible place to charge their car.

So if someone is likely to be at a destination for a few hours, it makes more sense to have fast chargers available rather than fewer rapids?

Nick Ballamy: Exactly that. And although you do get higher turnover with rapid chargers, it’s all about use case and the amenities on the development and what traffic flow is like in that area. That’s where our research before going into any development gets carried out, and then once we’ve made that decision, we make sure it’s commercially viable before moving forward with contracts.

What is your approach for residential developments?

Nick Ballamy: Just over 20% of the public in the UK live in multi-tenant apartment blocks. Within those multi-tenant apartment blocks, nine times out of ten there are car parks. And those residents that live in the apartment blocks don’t have the right to install their own infrastructure, it’s down to freeholders. We work directly with freeholders and landlords to provide that solution, and that’s because there is normally a service charge. However, trying to take tens of thousands of pounds out of a service charge to then put EV charging and infrastructure in place when there’s only one or two electric vehicles in the car park of a hundred vehicles, it’s never going to get signed off because 98% of those vehicles on site aren’t going to want charging facilities yet. So we provide enough charging infrastructure for the current electric vehicles on site, and then provide future chargers for anyone else who wants to purchase an electric vehicle.

How does the cost of charging with EVC compare to competitors?

Nick Ballamy: People do look out for costs. In terms of our power purchase agreements, we are in-line with our competitors, if not below. The reason for that is we’re looking at portfolio wide. So although we are a fairly new company within the industry, we have managed to secure connections in the right locations, making sure that we are still delivering a reasonable cost to charge. Therefore, we are installing in a very cost-effective manner, which means we don’t have to drive as much revenue through those charge points because we’re not looking to pay off ultra-rapid charging hubs that have cost millions of pounds to build in one location.

How does the adoption of EVs fit alongside other zero emission targets?

Oli Soper: If we are going to get to net zero, there’s an awful lot of very, very difficult decisions that are going to need to be made. And those decisions haven’t been made yet. And they’re going to have to be made by politicians and I’m not sure they’re totally prepared for that. And by tough decisions I mean, if you went and wrote a diary today of everything you did which emitted carbon, it would be a pretty long list. You can then scratch off every single thing on that list in 2050, because you’re not allowed to do it anymore. So, the scale of the issue that we’re trying to address is massive.

I get that making an electric vehicle is also a carbon emitter, but if you’re powering that with renewables over the lifetime, it’s substantially less of a carbon issue than an internal combustion engine car. Right now where we are, you’ve got a battery range of 200 to 300 miles as the semi solid and solid state batteries come online, where there’s no liquid electrolyte anymore, the degradation isn’t apparent anymore. You will have a battery that will outlive the life of your car. So we need to develop the industry to get to a point where you’ve got non-disposable hardware. We also need to demonstrate to the politicians that are going to have to make those hard decisions that we do care about the climate, we do need to do something about it otherwise it would be ignored as a political issue. We need to electrify our transportation.

How can the EV charging industry respond the massive uptake in electric vehicles?

Oli Soper: We’re already doing it and we’re not the only ones. There’s a few things that will stand in the way, you’ve got skills, you’ve got hardware and you’ve got money. The skills we’ve taken from renewable energy developments, there’s quite a few people that can do that out there. Hardware, there’s factories ramping up all the time with charge points and rapid charge points and they’ll manufacture them at the level that the market needs. And then in terms of large co financing we’re pretty confident that all that money is there. There’s hundreds of millions out there and it’s people that need to spend it. It’s pension funds that have got ESG requirements to hit, this is a completely sustainable industry and we’re here for the long term.

This is not a disposable, single use industry at all. We’re looking to the long term which makes us quite attractive for people who need to put their pension into decent things. What might stand in the way is the grid catching up. We don’t really need any political help from an EV purchasing perspective. The consumer need for electric vehicles needs to continue, but I really can’t see that going anywhere. Everyone seems to want EVs. They’re great. They’re brilliant to drive, pretty functional and generally better than petrol. The price point is approaching parity with petrol, so the consumers should keep buying. If they keep buying, there’s going to be a need for more EVs. It’s all moving in the right direction.

Nick Ballamy: Just to add to that, in terms of the uptake of electric vehicles, it’s at a far higher growth rate than anyone expected. The deployment of EV chargers is already falling behind. The government are relying on the likes of us, private companies, to help deploy these chargers as quickly as we possibly can so that we don’t force the EV adoption to slow down. It’s a great thing that’s happening for the UK. We’re having such high early adoption levels and ultimately everyone wants that to continue. But the only way that it is going to continue is if there are companies like us, because the likes of Shell and BP are not going to be able to deploy half a million public charging points, let alone the other million charging points on private land areas in the next eight years.

Any final message from EVC?

Nick Ballamy: It’s been a pleasure giving people a further understanding of what EVC’s achieved so far and our ambitions for the future, because we’ve done extremely well and we’ve got a large number of charging points secure that we’re waiting to deploy, which will put us into the top five operators in the next year.

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