Q&A: Richard Stobart of Char.gy
Established in 2016, Char.gy has developed a solution which claims to make charging points cheaper, quicker and less disruptive for businesses to install, while also catering for the 60% of urban drivers without off-street parking. The company’s CEO, Richard Stobart, explains how it works.
How does the Char.gy solution work?
Installing standalone charge points on streets requires expensive groundworks and additional cabling to be laid. The income generated from residential on-street charging is far less than destination charging. Char.gy uses existing lamp posts for its charging units, making use of existing infrastructure and electrical supplies to minimise installation costs and disruption for councils or businesses.
Char.gy units can be fitted onto every lamp post in a street or car park and are compatible with almost every type of lamp post. They provide fast charging capabilities of up to 7.7kW, equal to that of a dedicated-supply home charge point. The unit connects to the existing electrical wiring, with some additional technology placed inside the lamppost during the installation to manage the provision of electricity.
Char.gy has a patented mechanism to allow the sharing of charging load across multiple street lamps, if that is required for the existing street lighting configuration. Also, the units can be configured down from 7.7kW to meet the capability of the existing wiring.
What are the advantages of this?
As the electrical supply and street furniture already exists, installing Char.gy units saves a significant amount of time and cost, compared with installing new charging units. There is no need to dig up residential streets or car parks to lay additional cables or add on-street electricity cabinets. The installation time is measured in hours, not days, and the cost savings are in the thousands.
If several users share charge from a single device, the capital cost of the device can be offset by the revenue generated. This is not always the case on residential streets, but is the case in retail, office, train, hospital, hotels, and leisure centre car parks. Our chargers are therefore popular with businesses that want a cost-effective way of adding new charge points in their car parks.
Char.gy provides a convenient charging solution for employees, providing an extra incentive for them to consider using an EV for their commute. Electricity paid for by the business is not taxed as a Benefit-in-Kind.
How does your membership model work?
Our tariff prices were decided following extensive research into how EVs are used and charged, evaluating the cost in comparison to petrol or diesel and assessing the requirements of consumers and businesses.
Unlike most EV charging solutions, Char.gy doesn’t require a smart card to access the unit. The service is simply activated through our smartphone application, which also processes payments and provides charging access. Recent AFI regulations dictate that all public charge points need to support ad-hoc charging, which our solution does out of the box.
Low-usage EV drivers can opt for a pay-as-you-go tariff, allowing them to charge as little or as often as they need, with no monthly fee or minimum-term contract. There is no contract obligation and users can switch between pay-as-you-go and the various subscriptions, as and when it’s economically viable for them to.
Who is your target market?
We see our customers as councils and parking lot owners, but we treat their vehicle owners as customers too.
As on-street lamp posts are owned by councils, we work with local authorities covering a number of urban areas across the UK. Councils can have a unit installed for zero cost, because OLEV covers 75% of the capital cost and we, via our equipment leasing option, give the council a revenue that covers the remaining 25%, including service and maintenance. These generous OLEV grants are also available to NHS Trusts and railway stations. Potential applicants can contact the Energy Saving Trust for specific details.
Businesses can receive up to £300 for the hardware, as part of the Workplace Charging Scheme.
Can the units be upgraded?
Upgrades to firmware and software are managed remotely and automatically. The 10-year lease option means that ongoing service and maintenance, often an unbudgeted and costly expense for councils, is covered through the lease arrangement.
Hardware upgrades are either supplied free or at a cost, depending on the upgrade. The units are capable of 7.7kW and if the local authorities choose to upgrade the cabling capabilities of the lamp posts, they will benefit from the increased charging speeds for EV drivers.