As our investigation proves, there’s more than one way to reduce the cost of keeping your employees’ EVs charged up
There are now more than 10,000 public charging locations in Britain with almost 30,000 individual chargers, according to data company Statista.
However, charging at home or the office remains the most time-efficient way to top-up an EV’s batteries. Replenishing an EV while the driver is at their desk or asleep (preferably not both) means no interruption to the working day.
So if you want to maximise the benefit of switching some of your company fleet to plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicles, workplace charging is almost essential.
As well as the practical element to being able to charge at work, a row of charging points outside a company’s HQ sends a strong message about the firm’s environmental stance and commitment to sustainability. It’s also more likely to persuade employees to opt for an EV when they are given the choice. Research by the Idaho National Laboratory found that having chargers at work makes drivers six times more likely to make the switch to an electric vehicle.
Charging points, like EVs themselves, don’t come cheap, but there are ways to reduce the cost – and even turn the charger into a revenue stream.
The Workplace Charging Scheme supports businesses with the up-front cost of having chargers installed. It’s open to applications from any business, charity or public authority with off-street parking for its staff.
Businesses apply online (apply-workplace-chargepoint-grant.service.gov.uk) for up to 75% of the cost of each charger (capped at £500), up to a maximum of 20 chargers. So for a business with lots of EVs to charge, the potential saving is up to £10,000.
Once approved, businesses receive a voucher which must be redeemed within 120 days with an Office for Low Emission Vehicles-approved installer. Beware, you cannot apply retrospectively, so it’s important to get the voucher before paying for an installation.
The post-grant price of an installation will vary. Wall mounted chargers are generally cheaper than the post-mounted kind, and a 7kW fast charger will be more affordable than a 22kW rapid charger. As a rule of thumb, the renewable energy company, Spirit reckons on a cost of £1000-£1500+VAT per charger. So, taking the higher figure, no more than £1000+VAT per charger is a reasonable estimate of the post-grant cost.
As well as applying for grants to take the edge off the cost of installation, it’s possible to turn each charging point into
a revenue generator.
Peer-to-peer charging networks allow businesses to make money from chargers while they would otherwise sit idle and unused. It’s an idea that took off in the US with the launch of EVMatch in 2016. The app-based service allows both private individuals and businesses to join the ‘sharing economy’, offering charging points to EV drivers as a way of making private chargers available to the public, and making some money into the bargain.
A similar concept was launched by Zap-Map in the UK in 2018. There are two peer-to-peer networks, Zap-Home (for private individuals) and Zap-Work (for business customers). Zap-Map’s own research showed that some 30% of workplace charge-point owners would be willing to make them available to EV drivers, although that’s some way off the 50% of private charging point owners happy to share.
As such, there’s been a stronger focus on Zap-Home than Zap-Work in the two years since the networks launched.
Caragh Newman, Zap-Map’s client and data manager, says: “Zap-Home is more popular than Zap-Work but we still have a few hundred Zap-Work devices on Zap-Map at the moment.”
Clearly, any business making its charging point available to the public will want to make sure it is able to fulfil its own charging needs first. The CEO won’t be happy if someone is topping up their EV when he or she needs to charge their car before a long drive. There are also issues of security to consider.
However, Zap-Work allows businesses to keep on top of such issues by setting the times when the chargers are publicly available.
Individual businesses are also free to decide how much charging point users must pay. “As most devices at workplace locations are a fast/slow charge points we advise a tariff of £1-5 per session, however users can enter another amount if they wish,” says Newman. “Zap-Work users can receive payment for their charge points though a Paypal link, just like Zap-Home users.”
So to a large extent, once set up on the network, being part of Zap-Work should look after itself. To use Zap-Map click HERE
Realistically, the revenue from renting out a charging point to the public will be pocket money compared with the reduced cost-per-mile of running an EV rather than a petrol or diesel car. But the WCS scheme and peer-to-peer charging can both make a useful contribution to offsetting the cost of installing charging points and running a fleet of EVs.