Charged: 15 questions with... Connected Kerb
Back in May 2023, we were very excited to welcome Connected Kerb to the Electroverse.
With plans to hit the 10,000 charger mark by the end of 2023, Connected Kerb's plans for the EV charging network are ambitious. To understand more, we decided to sit down with Ben Boutcher-West (Chief Digital Officer) and Tariq Arafa (PR & Communications Manager).
Let's get plugged in...
(*You can check where your nearest Connected Kerb charger is by searching the map or using the app filters)
Give us a bit of background -- how did Connected Kerb start?
A collective of forward-thinking individuals who came together in 2017 with a simple mission; to democratise the electric vehicle industry and help change the world for good.
It feels like a lifetime ago - but back then, EV charger sightings were on a par with the Loch Ness Monster. But if we were to make a difference, this couldn’t go on much longer. Something had to change, so we got to work.
We started by designing a charging point that had the power to change people’s lives but was also beautiful to look at. Something that would complement its environment and become part of the neighbourhood. Then, in 2018 something big happened. We won a London Civic Innovation Award for our charging point design.
Our name quickly became known within the industry, and we began our journey to make EVs for the many, not the few. So we gathered some serious technology, design and future-thinking muscle from the four corners of the planet to level up the supply of EV charging infrastructure and change EV accessibility forever.
As a collective, what does Connected Kerb do differently than other charging providers?
We do more than just sell charging points. By bringing power and data straight to streets and car parks, we aim to bring sustainable mobility to everyone in a way that is high value, low impact and accessible to everyone. We aim to power tomorrow’s towns, cities and countryside with charging infrastructure that just works and won't become obsolete in ten years. Our unique ecosystem consists of underground enabling infrastructure which houses expensive components, protected from potential damage. This removes the need to dig up ground multiple times, as does the modular design of our charging points which makes maintenance and upgrades much easier. Our infrastructure supports future technologies such as 5G, IoT and air quality sensors – a future proof ‘street USB’ solution that connects people and places for generations to come
Connected Kerb’s manifesto to deliver on-street community charging is fantastic - how does this work in practice?
According to the 2016 English Housing Survey, over 60% of UK residents lack the capacity to charge their vehicles at home. Either they don’t own a driveway, or live in a flat or accommodation where charging facilities are just not an option. So we work with local councils to design a delivery plan that can move at speed but causes minimal disruption. Our own research also showed that most people would not want to walk more than 5 minutes from home to charge their vehicle. So putting in reliable, affordable and accessible public on-street charging on streets and car parks, or what we call long-dwell locations, is the only solution. Of course, engagement with local communities is essential to both educate and reassure them about what we are doing and we invest a lot of resources into doing this.
How does Connected Kerb select charging station locations? And how are these prioritised?
We select sites through a combination of resident requests and our own site selection tool, powered by artificial intelligence. This platform pulls data from over 60 sources in real-time, factoring in key elements like physical space, social context, financial viability, or user experience giving councils the insight needed to make informed decisions on chargepoints placement in their area.
As EV adoption continues to accelerate, the demand for more chargers on the public charging network is also increasing - how is Connected Kerb going to help?
By the end of 2022, we had grown our network to 3,200 charging points. By the end of this year, we hope to have installed close to 10,000. The challenge of scale is certainly a big one, but it’s a challenge we are determined to meet. Last year we agreed to a £110 million investment deal with Aviva Investor, which will provide plenty of great opportunities to install more charging points on their huge pan-European real estate portfolio. We are committed to increasing the number of chargers in workplaces, car parks and residential streets including where public services such as the NHS operate. We mustn’t get caught up in the numbers game though. Getting chargers in the ground in the right places is critical. We want every UK resident to be no more than a five-minute walk from a charging point which is why our site selection tool is such a big hit with councils.
Leading on from this - it’s fantastic to see Connected Kerb as one of the founding members of Charge UK! Can you tell us more about what Charge UK promises to deliver; and the roadmap to getting there?
ChargeUK is the voice of the UK’s EV charging industry – the companies that install and maintain the network of electric charging points necessary to underpin the UK’s transition to electric motoring and Net Zero. Connected Kerb is proud to be one of the 18 founding members of the association. ·By working together, we can ensure that this vital sector has the strongest possible voice and can.
Charge UK members are best placed to support and smooth that transition as we understand the logistical and policy challenges to come better than anyone. From planning and electricity supply to accessibility and price, we stand ready to help government and UK drivers to transition to cleaner transport.
Between us, the members of ChargeUK have announced we will invest over £6 billion in installing and operating new EV charging infrastructure by 2030. We will install tens of thousands of new chargers this year and are aiming to double the size of the network through 2023.
The UK is at the forefront of the global shift to electric vehicles thanks to ambitious Government policies in recent years, such as the ban on new sales of petrol and diesel cars in 2030 and the forthcoming ZEV mandate. ChargeUK will work constructively with Government to deliver this ambition, helping to shape the policies and regulations that best allow us to accelerate the availability of world-class charging infrastructure.
It was really interesting to read about the kerbside charging pilot in New York (and in Benelux, Europe, too!) - can you tell us a bit more about this?
The New York City project forms part of the DOT Studio - a collaboration between the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) and Newlab, focused on applying emerging technologies to advance planning, policy, operations, and real-time management of transportation across New York City in line with the City’s Vision Zero and sustainability goals.
The findings from the pilot will inform wider EV charging rollouts across New York City, helping to realise its goal of installing 10,000 kerbside chargers by 2030, and electrifying 20% of municipal parking bays by 2025.
Connected Kerb will receive funding to install its award-winning EV chargepoints and is currently exploring locations at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to deliver a ‘living lab’ that will demonstrate Connected Kerb’s ‘smart city’ infrastructure. This involves using the company’s chargers – which also support several IoT (Internet of Things) and telecommunication applications – to showcase how the EV revolution can support the rollout of other cutting-edge public access technology in urban environments.
There are still some people who believe they can’t own/lease an electric vehicle as they don’t have a driveway - what would you say to convince them otherwise?
We would say no driveway, no problem. We are installing more and more public charging points every day across the country and they could be coming to your street any time soon! Nobody must be left behind in the full switch to electric vehicles, including anyone unable to charge at home. We want to give affordable, reliable and sustainable charging to everyone regardless of where they live and installing on residential streets will help do that.
How can an Octopus Electroverse customer access the Connected Kerb network and activate the charge points?
You can check where your nearest Connected Kerb charger is by searching the map or using the app filters. Depending on the access type (you can check this the charge point information in the Electroverse app), you can start a charge using your Electrocard or the Electroverse app. For information on how to start a charge using the Electroverse app, check out the Electroverse blog: How to charge your car... from your phone!
Why are partnerships like Connected Kerb and Octopus Electroverse crucial to the public charging infrastructure?
Anything that makes it easier to find charging points has to be welcomed. That’s why it’s great that the Connected Kerb charging points are going live on the Electroverse app. Partnerships are key to providing the seamless charging experience that drivers deserve whether it be finding, using or paying for a charging point.
What’s your dream electric vehicle?
I was sad the Rivian will not come to the UK due to its size. As a farmer's son and amateur flower grower, I'd like a 4x4 with a 3-tonne tow capacity and still hold a flame to own an electrified classic Land Rover one day. If we are dreaming, maybe an EV Defender that can keep the rain out too.
What’s the longest journey you’ve completed in an EV - and can you share the total mileage?
I took a Tesla S between Cornwall and Leeds via the Brecon beacons on a tear-down drive once. That was an adventure I would like to repeat in different models as meeting so many enthusiastic people along the way was superb. Every time I stopped the car had a lot of interest, but it was 2016!
Do you have an EV life hack to share with the EV community?
If you can't charge at home, charge halfway there or halfway back. Range anxiety is fast becoming a problem of yesterday but if you are worried, this approach ensures you can make your total journey easily enough.
What advice would you give someone looking to use a Connected Kerb charging location for the first time?
While we are doing everything we can to make the experience as intuitive and as easy as possible, visiting any new site for the first time will expose the user to subtle nuances. Spend an extra few seconds checking the information presented and all will be well.
And finally - an EV etiquette question - what would you say is the golden rule to using a public charger?
Leave it in a better condition than when you arrived, if you have time. Then, give it a fair rating based on your experience as this helps the next users navigate and enjoy successful charging at more and more trusted locations. The EV driver experience depending on public infrastructure is all about the assurance of your next charge. We can all take a role in making this less and less of a concern.
Feeling enlightened or do you think something was missing? Let us know by sharing your feedback.
Interested in learning more? Head over to our Electroverse Community area for more electrifying content.