Is Community Charging the answer to the UK's EV charging problem?

Earlier this month the government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. However it's becoming increasingly clear that the inability to charge at home is currently one of the biggest barriers to electric car ownership. According to The English Housing Survey (2016 ) at least 40% of people live in terraced houses or flats where installing a private charger isn't an option.

So is the solution (or part of it...) Community Charging? Community Charging is using community resources such as existing home or business chargers to enable members of that community to run an electric vehicle.

Whilst there are already 30,000 public chargers in the UK, this number is a fraction of the number of home chargers – estimated to be at least 200,000. What if some of these existing chargers could be utilised to expand the UK's charging network? It wouldn't require any additional government investment, planning approval or installation work and could provide a swift solution for motorists keen to change to an electric vehicle right now.

Co Charger is a new platform supporting Community Charging and enabling those who do have chargers, whether motorists, businesses or community buildings to share them with neighbours who don't.

The Co Charger app connects Hosts with Chargees. Hosts are motorists and organisations with an EV charger they'd be open to sharing, whether that's a neighbour, village hall or dental surgery. The app enables Hosts to manage bookings and set the price they would like to charge for the service. It's an easy way for Hosts to not only help create cleaner, greener neighbourhoods but also to make some additional income from regular local bookings.

Chargees are people who have an electric vehicle, or are considering buying one but aren't able to charge at home. Using the app, Chargees can browse local charge points and see rates that apply for each host.

Payment operates on the AirBnB model, with the Chargee paying Co Charger and Co Charger passing that onto the host, after taking a nominal fee. The Co Charger app is available for both iOS and Android, free to download and there is no subscription. More information about how charging sessions are managed are available in the Co Charger FAQs.

'The government's strategy assumes that if it builds enough public chargers that will do the trick,' says Joel Teague, CEO of Co Charger. 'But the fact is that for every public charger there are at least 6 underused home chargers. Using a charger belonging to a neighbour offers the closest possible experience to home charging for motorists living in flats and terraces.'

Joel was prompted to develop Co Charger by finding himself temporarily without a charger. 'Five years ago a neighbour convinced me, a card-carrying petrol-head to get an electric car. The car arrived but my charger was delayed and I found myself giving that same neighbour a few quid to use their charger once a week until mine arrived. It led to a lightbulb moment where I thought of all the people blocked from getting an electric vehicle because they live in a flat or terraced house and don't have anywhere to charge.'

According to the Energy Saving Trust 80% of electric vehicle charging takes place at home. Households with an electric charger installed find this the most reliable, practical and affordable way to charge, and only need to use other chargers when undertaking long journeys.

However according to research by EV infrastructure company Connected Kerb, two thirds (67%) of existing electric vehicle owners would not have made the switch if they had to rely on public chargers. And nearly 9 in 10 of non-EV owners would be encouraged to make their next car purchase an EV if they had a space to charge it overnight.

To date, many motorists who live in flats or terraced houses and who would like to own an electric vehicle have felt 'locked out' of the positives of home charging and have been reluctant to depend wholly upon the public charging network.

Community Charging has the potential to narrow the gap and offer the following benefits:

1. Reliable – community charging can be pre-booked and the chargee can feel confident that the charger will be in working order

2. Practical – unlike public charging, a host isn't likely to have back-to-back bookings, meaning that the chargee may be able to leave the car plugged in and return when convenient. Overnight bookings, using cheaper energy tariffs are also likely to be available

3. Affordable – although the host will set the price they would like to charge for the service, this will probably be closer to home tariff rates than public charger ones.

Kirsty Semple lives in Topsham, Devon and her home isn't suitable for an electric charge point installation. She recently signed up to the Co Charger app and was matched with a suitable host. 'I've wanted to change to an electric car from a diesel for a long time,' says Kirsty. 'Through Co Charger I've found a Host with a charger he's willing to share within a few minutes walk of my house.'

'Community charging is no silver bullet,' says Joel Teague. 'But because it utilises the existing infrastructure it's a quick and affordable means to make electric motoring accessible to more people and bring the transition to electric vehicles forwards by years.'

Notes to editors

About Co Charger

Co Charger is developing a community that will help accelerate electric vehicle adoption. Through our app and collaborations we enable people who cannot charge a vehicle at home to do so within a short walking distance.

Co Charger is an environmentally and socially responsible company and aiming to become a B corporation certified organisation.

Co Charger is affiliated with the Co Cars family which also includes Co Bikes and Co Delivery. Together we are accelerating towards a shared, zero-emissions future.

Co Charger is actively collaborating with other organisations and businesses such as councils and car manufacturers to raise awareness of Community Charging and help accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles.

Co Charger Host – financial incentive

If a Host has 4 Chargees each doing an average mileage (7800) in cars with average efficiency a host could potentially make £470 a year in total.

This is based on the Host having an electricity tariff of 15p per kWh, and charging £1.70 an hour.

If the Host and the 4 Chargees use charge scheduling to use cheap electricity on a variable tariff (eg Octopus Go at 5p per kWh from 00.30am to 04.30am) the Host's profit rises to over £1300 a year.

Each of the 4 Chargees would be paying around £9 a week/£480 per year to charge their cars and would not have the added expense of installing a charger.

Media contact and interviews

Co Charger CEO Joel Teague is available for interview via Skype, Zoom or in person, respecting social distancing guidelines.

phone – 01392 240840/07941888679

email - Joel.Teague@co-charger.com

Co Charger director Sam Routledge samro@samroutledge.com

Co Charger is affiliated with the Co Cars family which also includes Co Bikes and Co Delivery. Together we are accelerating towards a shared, zero-emissions future.

Estimated number of home chargers

According to a recent query to the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) there is not an exact number available for the amount of home charge points in the UK.

However, it is possible to work from the following data -

By October 2020 OLEV has funded 120,000 home chargers. In addition some car manufacturers offer free charger installation with purchase of a new vehicle.

As of November 2020 there are an estimated 385,000 plug-in cars and vans in the UK. 80% of these motorists charge at home (according to the Energy Saving Trust). This gives estimated 308,000 home charge points.


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