Making sense of business models in electric vehicle charging
electric vehicles currently on the road
public charge points currently installed across the UK
The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is already upon us. Battery life and other performance measures are rapidly improving at pace. There are now over 130,000 electric vehicles on the roads and 15,000 public charge points installed across the UK – not to mention rising numbers of privately-owned chargers being rolled out.
The successful roll-out of low carbon transport will depend on putting the customer in the driving seat. Many motorists have long seen their cars as more than just vehicles, but in the case of EVs this will take on new dimensions given the potentially transformative role they can perform in storing and supplying electricity. Those capabilities mustn’t overshadow the fact that EVs will be used as cars first and foremost. This means that customer adoption rests on drivers retaining the choice and freedom they have had with their vehicles to date.
“In a rapidly emerging market, business model innovation and evolution is very dynamic. Opportunities exist to innovate and collaborate. So many will succeed and others will fail – only time will tell.”
In partnership with Energy UK our latest report focuses on the charge point operators (CPOs) and the different business models and challenges we see emerging in EV charging. CPOs are the companies that install, maintain, operate or optimise EV charging infrastructure. We interviewed some of the leading operators in charging including Chargemaster, Instavolt, Ovo Energy and Pod Point. We also spoke to other key stakeholders across the value chain such as electricity suppliers and transmission and distribution businesses including Ecotricity, EDF Energy, National Grid and Western Power Distribution.
This research builds upon our previous report “Charging ahead! The need to upscale UK electric vehicle charging infrastructure”, we looked from the consumer’s perspective at the broad challenges facing EV charging in the UK. However, in this report, from the CPO’s view, we identified different strategies, approaches and business models. Our research sought to distill the common strengths and key themes relevant to this array of players.
This type of company operates across multiple charging segments, such as home, work and destination charging. Typically this player extracts revenue from several charging segments. This approach is more diversified and hence mitigates risk and allows the operator to bundle offerings to generate alternative revenue streams, above and beyond charging tariffs.
Companies in this category tend to focus on one charging segment, leveraging their technical capabilities and relationships with key stakeholders to generate revenue from that business. Some rapid charging operators are a good example of this.
Companies in this group focus on building a future market position across multiple charging segments to capture alternative revenues on the back of traditional EV charging. These secondary revenues could be from helping manage the grid by exporting power from clusters of stationary EVs or by using smart technology to ‘load shift’ (facilitating the charging of EVs at periods of low demand).
For these type of companies, typically an electricity supplier, EV charging is currently not a core part of the business. However, they are keen to build a position in EV charging, given increased adoption of EVs will boost national demand for electricity, which in turn will benefit the power companies. Future opportunities around managing power demand profiles, via smart charging for example, will increasingly appeal to energy suppliers.
“It is essential that charging infrastructure – sufficient access to charging points and their compatibility with energy networks – keeps pace with rapidly evolving technologies and business models in this sector.”
We are still very much in the early stages of this EV revolution. Creating an environment that allows people to charge easily and where charging fits into their way of living will be fundamental to catalysing EV demand. It is about a lot more than simply building charging points.
From the customer perspective, it’s about developing a holistic value proposition that meets the needs of the user and delivers an experience that encourages EV drivers to come back. From the perspective of the charging operator, it’s about building a business with optionality and potential to scale up.
So whether you are an aspiring CPO, an investor looking to fund an operator or a business looking to partner with a charging company, here are a few key questions to consider:
Getting answers to these questions will be critical to making sense of the options. With so many business models in the market, it can be difficult to figure out which ones are the likely winners. However, choosing the right strategy, capabilities and partnerships are essential.
Automotive Industry, Strategy&, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)7900 163731
Adrian Del Maestro
Director of Research, Strategy&, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 7900 163558