Neighbours sharing electric vehicle chargers can speed up shift to EVs – no driveway, no problem!
What is one of the most important requirements to run an electric vehicle? Access to convenient, reliable and affordable charging. If a motorist has their own driveway the answer is to have their own electric vehicle charger installed and do the majority of their charging at home. Over 80% of charging is currently carried out this way.
But what about motorists living in flats and terraced houses, who don't have access to a charger? The English Housing Survey (2016) reveals that 40% of population are in this situation. Although public chargers are available there are currently only around 35,000 in the UK. This is a fraction of the number of home chargers – estimated to be at least 300,000.
So what if some of these home charger owners were willing to connect with neighbours in flats and terraces, share their charger and help create a cleaner, greener neighbourhood?
That's exactly what Stefano Tonelli, a retired architect from Dulwich, London has done, by becoming a Co Charger Host.
Co Charger enables those who do have chargers, whether motorists, businesses or community buildings to share them with neighbours who don't, through 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.
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 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 Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) from the 25th October 2021 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.'
Co Charger has featured in The Sunday Times 'Can't find an electric car charger – rent the neighbour's, Forbes
'Charger sharing could be the solution to the EV infrastructure problem' and Autocar
Good Neighbours: an EV charging solution for motorists with no driveway
How the app works is described in Co Charger's latest 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!
'With charger sharing, everyone wins,' says Joel Teague. 'In practice it means a motorist living in a flat can have an arrangement with a nearby neighbour with a driveway to charge at theirs once or twice a week, ideally overnight. The Host can earn some extra income from renting out their charger, whilst the Chargee gets the nearest possible experience to home charging. Charge point sharing is a quick, cheap, and self-scaling solution. As EV ownership rises, more home charge points will become available, which can then be shared with neighbours, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of owning an EV and a cleaner, greener neighbourhood'.
Ben Nelmes, Head of Policy at independent transport research organisation NewAutomotive says, 'People who live in flats and terraces need confidence in local and reliable access to charging before they can make the switch to an EV. To have a rapid and early transition to EVs we need to use every tool in the box. This means more data-driven decisions about where to put public charge points and also incentive for charge sharing schemes, which have huge potential to improve people's ability to charge up their EVs where and when they need to.'
'I know how challenging it can be to run an electric car without a charger because I was once in that position myself,' adds Joel. '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.'