Charlie takes a look at how the latest energy changes will impact the EV market
For first-time buyers, electric car ownership can appear somewhat confusing. Not only do you have to understand the capabilities of your new EV such as range and battery size, but you also need to grasp the complexities of home charging and public charging, which can lead to confusion.
In a similar fashion to how price comparison websites have made it simpler to shop for things like car insurance, new website Rightcharge is aiming to help EV owners select between tariffs.
With rising energy prices, EV tariff savings have shrunk dramatically, adding to the cost of recharging an EV. Move Electric asked Rightcharge founder and energy industry veteran Charlie Cook about rising energy bills, the need for education when buying an EV and why picking the right home charger is important.
What is Rightcharge and where did the idea come from?
“I used to work for an energy company on its electric vehicle charging scheme. I learned that the market was evolving from a fairly simple solution. Initially home chargers were very simple and there was no question on features, aesthetics or price point, or any preference for customers.
“But more and more technology was flooding into the market, resulting in different types of home chargers. So all of a sudden, a home charger was more than just a commodity that goes on the wall and I felt like there wasn’t any way to compare the different solutions, so that’s where Rightcharge was born from.
“EV drivers can jump onto the site, drop in a few details about where they live, whether they have solar, whether they park at home overnight and whether they have a second car, and we recommend the right charger for them.
“Behind the website we have a network of more than 50 different installation companies that covers the whole of the UK, who will go out and install the home charger for a fee.
“We’ve also launched an EV tariff service, which asks people about their home, what car they drive, how far they drive and how they charge it and then shares all the different tariffs available. Hopefully we can change the way people charge so that smart charging becomes the norm.”
On average, what can people save on their energy bills by having an EV tariff?
“If you’d asked me that before the energy crisis began in September then the average saving was around £586 a year for someone doing the average 7400 miles a year for an EV – a huge amount of money just by switching tariff.
“Now energy prices have shot up the savings have significantly dropped, although they are still reasonable in the current environment.
“If you’re on a variable tariff right now, all of which have gone up to the cap that Ofgem set for energy suppliers, you’re still going to save money by switching to an EV tariff because you get access to cheaper off-peak rates overnight.
“The average saving is now around £158 per driver, and then when we get back to some level of normality in spring, hopefully those savings will go back up into the multiple hundreds.”
Have you seen a rise in demand for home chargers as a result of the OZEV grant ending?
“We’ve seen a 100% rise in in the number of requests for charge point installs between December and January which indicates that Brits are moving fast to take advantage of the OZEV grant before it’s too late.
“Major charge point providers removed the opportunity to access the grant for direct enquiries in late 2022. We have been able to continue offering access to the grant through January, however, this may only last a few more days and we recommend drivers kick off their journey for a charge point install in January via our site to avoid missing out.
“We work with over 50 of the best charge point manufacturers and installers in the UK and will connect you to the one most suitable to your personal needs and circumstances.”
How much education is needed to help first-time EV buyers into ownership?
“It doesn’t matter how advanced this market gets, there will always need to be education, because right up to 2030 and beyond the majority of EV adopters are going to be first time buyers. For example, before I started working for an energy company I had no idea that an off-peak tariff existed.
“In the UK, 10 to 15 million people will need to be educated about EVs and hopefully we can give them something super simple that helps them to understand the benefits of both the home charger and the energy tariff.”
How important is it for an EV owner to pick the right charger?
“There are three key features that differentiate charge points. Firstly, smart charging, which most of them do today.
“Solar integration is the second feature: if you’ve got solar panels or are thinking of having some installed you definitely need to be aware of that.
“The other key feature is load balancing: whether the unit is intelligent enough to look at the power that’s being consumed in the home, and knows what the fuse limit is, so if it realises that the home’s power consumption is approaching the fuse limit, it will drop the power to the car temporarily.”
Are EV buyers aware of EV energy tariffs and how beneficial are they?
“I think the awareness among the EV population of specialist tariffs is probably even lower than the awareness of smart charge points. There are tons of different charging solutions but not many people are talking to them about the opportunity to switch tariffs.
“Ofgem did a study and found the majority of EV drivers hadn’t switched to an EV tariff after buying an electric car. I think the only reason that could be true is because they don’t really realise that there are better opportunities out there for them.”
Has the chip shortage presented any challenges to EV home charge installation?
“It has played a role and the chip shortage has definitely impacted the charging market. I think the delays that we are seeing at the moment are driven partly by the challenge in getting hold of product for home charging points.
“But I think the other factor is simply the demand and the availability of engineers so I would say both of those things are contributing to long lead times.”