UK-based Connected Kerb is one of the new breed of independent mobility startups vying for position in the rapidly evolving electric vehicle charging sector. The company offers an environmentally sensitive curbside charging solution for the mass EV market that it aims to offer globally. Connected Kerb strategy boss Chris Pateman-Jones outlined the company's plans to Automotive News Europe Correspondent Olive Keogh.
What makes Connected Kerb different to other EV charging infrastructure operators?
For a start, we are not owned by one of the massive oil or technology companies. That gives us a huge amount of flexibility. It also means we are driven by our customers' needs rather than internal structures. To that end, we are not a charging company in the traditional sense. We are both an EV charging and a smart cities company aiming to deliver a suite of smart services to the communities where we deploy.
What gives you the edge over rivals?
We are super-connected so wherever we are active we deploy superfast fiber alongside IoT [Internet of Things] smart sensors, creating a smart cities zone. We have also future proofed our technology by separating the socket from the charger. In the next five to 10 years we believe the way you charge your EV will change. It's unlikely you will still be plugging your car in and more likely that there will be some form of induction or Wi-Fi charging. We are ready for that future, now.
What are the key technical highlights of Connected Kerb's product?
Our low visual impact 3-kilowatt hour to 7 kWh smart charging units are manufactured from 80 percent recycled materials and offer induction capabilities. The units are robust in design, easy to maintain and work seamlessly with our mobile app and RFID [contactless] payment mechanisms. Our fiber connections provide a fast, secure and reliable data network delivering wireless connectivity speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second between people's homes and their vehicle while our IoT sensors provide surrounding environmental data such as air quality and parking bay occupancy.
What are the key product highlights from a customer's perspective?
We are providing EV drivers with what they need: fast, convenient, easy-to-use charging that takes advantage of attractive energy tariffs and, where appropriate, has the capability to feed power back to the grid. Our portal gives drivers the ability to view, locate, book and receive directions in real time to charge points on our network.
What is your target market?
In the UK alone 48 percent of the population doesn't have access to off-street parking or to a home charger. It's these people we aim to serve. On that basis, our customers are property developers, local authorities and car park operators.
What are the biggest challenges facing the EV charging sector?
Profitability, funding and choosing the right places to deploy the charging points. So far, we are seeing organizations deploy points where they think make sense. This is not necessarily where the user really wants or will chose to use them. The current charging network is neither convenient nor reliable. We think charger deployment [location and charger speed] should be led by dwell time [how long they will be parked at the location]. There's limited value in putting a slow charger in a supermarket parking lot, where the car is only stationary for 30 to 45 minutes, but they're perfect on a residential street where the car will often sit for more than 12 hours a night.
What's hampering EV adoption?
The two big barriers are access to infrastructure and user experience. There is currently nothing on the market that is the Apple or Google equivalent of ease of use. With the infrastructure, it's not just where charging points are located but the scale on which they are deployed. In residential areas and workplaces, we think future deployments should not only deliver higher reliability chargers but should also be on a much bigger scale to give drivers convenient access to chargers and, most importantly, confidence that they will work when they need them.