How can Londoners go electric as the ULEZ zone expands? By charging at their neighbour's house!
On 25th October 2021 London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is set to expand from 8 square miles in central London to encompass the suburbs within the North and South Circular roads. It will cover an area of 146 square miles, an 18-fold expansion. Cars and other vehicles driving within this area will need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards or pay a daily charge of £12.50, with no exemption for residents. This means the owner of an older car would end up paying £650 a year in charges if they drive their car once a week, or £2600 if they need to drive it four times a week.
The AA has warned that up to 350,000 motorists living within the area driving non-compliant cars will be affected. So with the clock ticking, how are these motorists planning to respond? Some might use their car so infrequently that they are willing to pay the charge, whilst others might sell or scrap their vehicle and use public transport instead. Most will shift to a vehicle that complies with the regulations, maybe choosing a compliant petrol (Euro 4) or diesel (Euro 6) vehicle.
However, many Londoners would love to make an even more significant transition – to an electric vehicle that's better for the planet and their bank balance.
Using the ULEZ expansion to help trigger London's transition to electric – via Community Charging
'But where will motorists living in flats and terraces charge their cars?' is the question that always comes up whenever the shift to electric motoring is raised. And in built-up areas like London, it's a particularly valid point.
According to the Mayor of London's office, London has over 6,000 public electric vehicle charging points, but that's not enough for the increased demand.
Thankfully there is another option that has the potential to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in London – Community Charging. Community Charging is the utilisation of community resources – chargers, space, infrastructure, people or finance to allow members of that community to run electric vehicles. Co Charger is the only purpose-built Community Charging app and enables 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, charity, or a small business. Chargees are people who have an electric vehicle or are considering buying one but aren't able to charge at home.
Stefano Tonelli, a retired architect from Dulwich, London, spotted Co Charger on social media and signed up as a Host straight away. 'I live in a house with a driveway, and we have our own charger, but most of my neighbours here in Dulwich are in Victorian terraced houses,' Stefano explains. 'We are just inside the South Circular, and both the traffic and pollution levels are high. My attitude is that we owe it to ourselves, the world and our children to go greener. If I can help my neighbours switch to electric cars by sharing my charger then I'm delighted to do so.'
In addition to helping the environment, Co Charger Hosts can also earn income to help recoup the cost of their charger. The app does the 'matchmaking', allowing Hosts and Chargees to find each other and enables Hosts to manage weekly, recurring bookings and set the price they would like to charge for the service. The process and payment structure is deliberately very simple. At the end of each charging session the Chargee pays via a card pre-registered in the app and the Host receives that payment minus Co Charger's 12% fee. There is no other cost or commitment.
Stefano made the switch to electric motoring himself because he was devastated by 'Dieselgate'. 'Back in 2012 my wife and I wanted to buy an environmentally friendly car and were advised to get a diesel. So when the news came out that the emissions figures had been falsified, I felt angry and betrayed. In 2017 we bought a Tesla Model X – it's more than we've ever spent on a car before, but it's been worth it, and we're very happy with our choice.'
Stefano is aware that the expansion of the ULEZ zone will affect many nearby motorists. 'Lots of the cars I currently see parked on the street don't fit the ULEZ criteria,' says Stefano. 'My neighbours will either have to pay the £12.50 a day charge to drive them within the Zone, or change to a more eco-friendly vehicle. There are public chargers locally, but not enough for everyone to have access to reliable charging. So I hope more people become aware of Co Charger and the option of charging at a neighbour's home.'
'There are already dozens of Co Charger Hosts within the new ULEZ zone, with many more joining each week,' says Joel Teague, CEO of Co Charger. 'By sharing their home or workplace chargers, Hosts can make additional income whilst also helping their neighbourhood become cleaner and greener. And for Chargees desperate to change to electric, it can finally make running an electric vehicle a viable option. Most public chargers aren't bookable, so being reliant on them can be hit and miss. What if your local charger is always busy or even broken? Charging at a neighbour's home is bookable, reliable and affordable – the next best thing to having a charger of your own.'
Joel adds, 'According to Transport for London, the initial ULEZ zone, set up in 2019, has had a transformational effect on air quality in the area, contributing to a 44% reduction in roadside nitrogen dioxide within its boundaries. By delivering the benefits of home charging to those who cannot have their own chargers, Co Charger can help make the ULEZ expansion the trigger for more affordable, cleaner transport for thousands of London motorists.'
How EV charge point sharing can double the number of electric vehicle charge points in the UK overnight
Community Charging has the potential to transform EV uptake not just in London but throughout the country. There are currently 39,000 public electric vehicle charge points available in the UK and over 400,000 home chargers. By sharing even a fraction of them, electric vehicle expansion can be transformed.
Co Charger's rapid expansion is making electric vehicle charger sharing a reality. It was launched in November 2020 since then has seen 28% growth month-on-month. It now has approaching 5,000 users across all parts of the UK. There are currently over 1920 Co Charger Hosts, outnumbering Tesla's Destination Chargers at 1187, making Co Charger the 6th largest network in the UK according to Zap-Map statistics October 2021.
Co Charger has featured in The Sunday Times, Autocar, Forbes and The Guardian 'Can't find an electric car charger – rent the neighbour's.
How the app works is described in Co Charger's video Co Charger – Together We're Electrifying and it's also been featured on Fully Charged Plus, in which electric vehicle expert Robert Llewellyn interviews Co Charger CEO Joel Teague No driveway, no problem!
From petrol-head to electric vehicle superfan
'I know how challenging it can be to run an electric car without a charger because I was once in that position myself,' says Joe Teague of Co Charger. 'Five years ago, a neighbour convinced me to get an electric car. My new Renault Zoe arrived, but the charger installation was delayed, and my nearest public charger was miles away. I ended up giving the same neighbour a few quid to use their charger once a week until mine arrived. It was such an easy, convenient arrangement and led to a lightbulb moment in which I realised that connecting communities via an app to share chargers could unlock electric vehicle ownership for millions of motorists.'
Joel himself is a reformed petrol-head turned electric vehicle superfan. 'I used to drive Jaguars, which I would buy second-hand. But then I decided to invest in a new Renault Zoe because it offered a smooth, quiet ride and was an ethical choice. However, as is the case for a lot of motorists going electric did mean stretching my budget when it came to the initial purchase, but I knew that over time the low running costs would make the car a wise financial choice for me and my family. If I hadn't been able to charge at either at home or within my immediate neighbourhood, the transition to an electric vehicle wouldn't have been viable – and with Co Charger, I want to help more motorists have the same opportunity.'