We've been keeping this partnership under wraps for a while... but it's high time to start shouting the news as InstaVolt has joined the Octopus Electroverse network!
With over 1,000 rapid chargers across the UK and a reputation as one of the most reliable charging operators in the game, we thought it was time to sit down with InstaVolt CEO, Adrian Keen, and get the inside scoop on InstaVolt's plans for the future (including mention of a European expansion)!
Give us a bit of background - how did InstaVolt start?
InstaVolt was born at the very end of 2016, as we could see the EV revolution coming and recognised the provision of rapid EV charging infrastructure (what little there was) was a nightmare for consumers to use – access was difficult, reliability was shocking, and locations were often poor. We saw the opportunity for a consumer-focused network that put ease of use and reliability at the heart of our offer.
I get this question a lot, the short answer is that we’re hyper-focused on this topic, as it is key to the customer experience. The slightly longer answer is that we tackle this in several ways: Firstly, we monitor the health of our network in real-time, so we can respond immediately to any issues on the network. We don’t have to wait for issues to be “discovered”. Secondly, we employ a nationwide team of service engineers who are available to react to any issue or fault as soon as it arises. Our engineers work directly for InstaVolt, so we aren’t reliant on any third-party SLAs. Thirdly, we hold plenty of spare parts so if a component fails, we aren’t waiting on the supply chain to deliver a part. Finally, we build excellent relationships with our hardware suppliers, and we work together to find continuous improvement opportunities with the hardware.
As the largest fully public owner-operator of rapid DC charging stations in the UK - which is incredibly exciting - how many charging stations are currently operating in the UK?
As of the end of April 2023, we had over 1,100 rapid charging stations at over 500 sites. We’re adding more weekly, and we have over 500 chargers under contract to be constructed in the coming months. It’s incredibly busy here!
Well, we broke through 1,000 rapids earlier in the year, and we have a solid pipeline of great partnerships that puts us well on our way to hitting that target. EQT has been incredibly supportive of our goals and ambitions and is aligned with the management team to achieve these. We’re also ramping up operations in four new European markets – Ireland, Iceland, Spain and Portugal.
What does InstaVolt prioritise when building a new charging station?
We broke the mould when we began installing 2+ chargers on each site, something only Tesla was bold enough to do in 2016. We see the market demanding more hubs – sites of 8+ chargers with amenities for drivers, good access and course, sufficient available power. We’re building a truly nationwide network that provides an enjoyable charging experience for all drivers.
InstaVolt EV charging stations deliver high-powered DC charging (50kW to 120kW) - what does the future look like for even faster charging speeds?
Later this year we’ll be deploying our next iteration of chargers, capable of providing up to 160kW. This is a meaningful step up from our 120kW chargers, and we’re excited to see these on the network soon!
It was interesting to read that InstaVolt develops its charging stations - what does this mean in practice?
We work closely with our partner, BYD, to add bespoke features to the chargers and make design changes that we request. This ranges from the separate, dedicated high-definition screen that is available for promotional content, to making changes that comply with the PAS1899 accessibility guidance. I really value this collaboration. We have a more collaborative relationship than a simple customer-supplier agreement.
It’s great to see that InstaVolt chargepoints run on 100% renewable energy - was a rapid network powered by renewables always the goal?
Absolutely. Many of the team come from a renewables and energy efficiency background and we take the journey to net zero incredibly seriously, so 100% renewable energy is a must-have for us. It’s one of my “red lines” that I won’t compromise on!
With organisations like Charge UK promising the acceleration of public EV chargepoints by 2023 - what’s the vision for InstaVolt in 5 years?
Lots more growth! With a focus on the charging experience which includes developing our own unique charger hubs to accommodate the growing number of cars on the road. We expect to be well on our way to 10,000 chargers by then. Industry-wide, I expect to see some consolidation, which is often the case in industries like ours with lots of new market entrants and a high capital demand.
Why are partnerships like InstaVolt and Octopus Electroverse crucial to accelerating the public charging infrastructure?
Even today, concerns remain about public charging even though the reality is quite different, with network operators really raising the standards in terms of ease of use and reliability. We’re proud to have been at the forefront of this. Our partnership with Octopus Electroverse makes accessing public charging that little bit easier for drivers, in turn giving them confidence in EV ownership. This can only be a good thing as we transition to an electric future.
I drive a Tesla Model 3 and rack up quite a few miles, and it has never let me down. I quite fancy a Porsche Taycan though. Some years ago, Paul Woodman from Lovecars took me for a spin in one on a track. It was incredible (not for the fainthearted!).
What’s the longest journey you’ve completed in an EV - and can you share the total mileage?
I drove from Oxford to Glasgow and back over a 36-hour window. That was a round trip of almost 800 miles, entirely using the InstaVolt network!
Do you have an EV life hack to share with the EV community?
Just a little bit of planning in advance makes long journeys much easier. Also, stick with InstaVolt for a flawless public charging experience!
What advice would you give someone looking to use an InstaVolt charging location for the first time?
Don’t be put off by the negative stories you hear about public charging. Charging with InstaVolt is as easy as it gets, a charge can be started in 3 easy steps; tap, plug in, and charge!
We offer simple payment methods to suit driver preferences (contactless card, Fleet RFID or an Octopus Electrocard or app) and our chargers are known for being super reliable.
And finally - an EV etiquette question - what would you say is the golden rule to using a public charger?
Don’t be “that” person who leaves their car in a charging bay long after it's finished charging. It’s just poor manners! Also, be friendly to the person charging next to you – it could be their first time charging and they might need a little help. The EV community is incredibly friendly and supportive!