Chris Pateman-Jones joined Connected Kerb to take responsibility for product and strategy around 5 months ago from Ernst and Young, acting as the consultancy firm’s director of infrastructure. He identified a “massively exciting” opportunity with Connected Kerb, joining the founders in London to help pioneer cost-effective sustainable energy during the uptake of EVs in the city.
“The reason that I am here is the fact that I believe that EVs need to be for everyone, not just the wealthy,” he says.
EV’s are still predominantly owned by the wealthy and this is for a number of reasons. Historically, cars have been very expensive to buy. Nowadays, this isn’t the reason, as most people are leasing vehicles instead of buying them.
“In addition to the cost of vehicles reducing dramatically over recent years and new government initiatives, the economics actually stack up for consumers to buy an EV,” adds Pateman-Jones.
However, the reason why EV ownership is still associated with wealth comes down to the dynamics of urban areas, where the vast majority of people (as much as 48%) do not have access to driveways. Ultimately, if you don’t have access to a driveway, the current public charging infrastructure is inadequate. In urban areas, it tends to be wealthy people who have off-street parking and therefore the ability to install home chargers, whilst the poor have to rely on public charging infrastructure.
The risk is that this divide, in access to charging infrastructure, will (without major investment into public charging points) limit the speed of EV adoption in urban areas such as London, as a significant portion of the urban population is excluded from ownership.
“According to the World Health Organisation, 4.2 million people die around the world each year because of air quality, predominately in dense urban areas which are also the poorest areas,” says Pateman-Jones. “To make EVs available beyond the small numbers that can afford it today, you have to access the street residential market which is what we’re after.”
Pateman-Jones has experience in the Mining and Oil industries, so he is well aware that most of the parts that go into an EV are not actually that green – not to mention the process of sourcing and extracting them. He says that this is only tollerable if the overall environmental benefit of EVs is delivered and the supporting infrastructure is as green as possible.
“We wanted to develop something that is ultra-green and recyclable,” he says. “We are exploring opportunities with recycling companies to drive green innovation into our chargers, to ensure that we have security over the supply of the recycled materials we use and also try to put out a positive message on that fact that we are building an infrastructure that is as green as possible.”
Pateman-Jones says another aspect of the environment is the assets that are being put in the ground; in this case, Connected Kerb’s charging stations. Every time you dig up the road, there is a huge waste of aggregates, which means that you have to be smart when installing charging infrastructure.
“If we can partner the deployment of our technology with other organisations who also see a value in the trench (utilities and power) then we can reduce the number of times the road has to be dug up, which has an environmental impact and a social impact in terms of disruption,” he says.
Connected Kerb’s strategy focuses on clean sustainable energy, industry collaboration and consumer accessibility. Although a relatively new company, it is already looking to implement a return cable in its charging infrastructure so that it can start to focus on vehicle-to-grid technology, which will be a product of partnership.
“We are trying to think of everything as an ecosystem, recognising the convergence of a number of sectors around the adoption of EVs,” continues Pateman-Jones. “As a small start-up, we don’t have the capacity or capability to develop everything alone, but we don’t need to; our partnership approach means we can access capability within our ecosystem.”
“What we want to try and do is bring everyone together. Working with specific clients such as the large energy networks and fleets to achieve our vision.”