Along with a lack of power, the issue of range is one of the biggest concerns raised by electric car drivers. Norway is the world’s #1 nation when it comes to driving EVs and in 2013, its Language Council added the word rekkeviddeangst to the Norwegian lexicon; it means ‘range anxiety’! There is a Formula E Championship which is a bit like Formula 1 but with electric cars. The trouble is, each driver needs two cars a race because of lack of range!
Range anxiety has been touted as the main reason why electric cars have not made the sales that were originally forecast. Manufacturers are trying to fix the problem; possible solutions include more powerful batteries and more charger points. Electric car companies are struggling to create better batteries and creating a national network of chargers is an endeavour so expensive that only Estonia has managed it to date and it is a relatively small country.
A New Solution?
Pod Point is a UK-based company and it hopes to find the solution to range anxiety by developing a national network of charging points. It is following a similar model created by Charge Point, an American firm. Both companies are cleverly not shelling out their own cash. Pod Point is looking to sell or lease hardware to organisations that can offer a charging station for a fee or for no charge depending on the preference of the buyer. For example, Sainsbury’s has installed over 170 chargers in its shops around the UK while Gatwick and Heathrow airports also have charging points sold by Pod Point.
Pod Point. Source: Google Images
According to Erik Fairbairn, the CEO of Pod Point, the company model looks to install chargers in areas of high demand; chargers in public places where there is high traffic for example should help reduce the feeling of range anxiety experienced by EV drivers. With chargers close to areas where you will be parked, less time is spent worrying about whether you have enough power to get home or not.
Pod Point makes money from the hardware and from services. Pod Point software can be used to manage pricing while the company has an app which can be used to pay for charging your car. The company is in talks with the national grid where it is negotiating a deal to supply power to consumers at peak times. Fairbairn said the company can pause charging for up to a minute which allows utility companies to balance demand across the UK with the supply of power on the grid. Obviously, the company will charge a fee for this service.
Pod Point is still a relatively small company and has shipped 17,000 chargers; most of which are for private homes and internal business use with around 1,300 chargers available for public use. The company is hoping to expand and has raised £1.2 million on Seedrs which is a crowdfunding website and it believes more money will be invested before the campaign ends.
According to Fairbairn, investing in Pod Point is a good strategy because the company is profitable. Electric car sales increased almost 150% from January-October 2014 in the UK when compared to the same period in 2013. It will be interesting to see just how far Pod Point can take its goal of developing a national charging point network.