05 Apr 2022

Guest blog: The Challenges Impeding Widespread Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Kassie Paschke from Char.gy explores what we need to deliver better charging infrastructure as part of the EV transition

In November 2008, the UK became the world’s first major economy to institute a legally binding commitment to mitigate climate change. The Climate Change Act was passed with near-unanimous approval from all political parties and immediately thereafter, the advent of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles followed as a means of addressing the transport sector’s environmental impact. Driving the widespread uptake of electric vehicles was OZEV’s primary mandate as EV’s fuelled by renewable energy sources provided dramatically reduced carbon emissions over a life-cycle vs. combustible engine vehicles dependent on fossil fuels. However, over this course, a major obstacle was discovered: a third or more of UK households do not have access to the off-street parking required to charge electric vehicles – a figure that amounts to 40% in city and urban areas, and 78% in London. Char.gy arose as a means to solving this problem.

Founded in June 2016 as the direct result of an innovation drive by Unboxed, a London-based digital agency established in 2004, to develop an in-house product that could offer both high social value and be taken to market. Char.gy utilizes Unboxed’s best-practices of user-centred software development in order to deliver a reliable and easy-to-use platform alongside coordinated partnerships with hardware and field service suppliers. The intersection of software and hardware innovation supported by strong and long-standing relationships with all stakeholders allows Char.gy to provide a whole-system solution for a fraction of the cost in relation to competitors. Charging units are installed into lamp posts and use existing electrical current supplies which means minimal disruption for residents, councils and businesses. It’s a win-win all round.

Despite clear benefits, momentum has been a challenge to maintain. “Public perception has been our biggest hurdle” Char.gy CEO, Richard Stobart explains: “there are so many misconceptions around EVs causing a fundamental nervousness that really doesn’t need to be there.” Public apprehension usually entails an assumption that EV’s aren’t as nice to drive, nostalgia surrounding petrol stations as well as range anxiety. All preconceived ideas easily combated by the actual experience of driving an electric vehicle. “Thankfully, there are a lot of people working very hard to help with this: there’s the Milton Keynes Experience Centre where you can take an EV out for a test drive; Robert Llewelyn who presents a show on YouTube called Fully Charged and has over 800 000 subscribers. Also, shows like Top Gear are starting to feature electric cars so public perception is starting to move in a healthier direction.”  

As awareness surrounding the value of transitioning to electric vehicles has spread, Char.gy has been able to grow from strength to strength. By April 2021, just under nine hundred Char.gy devices had been deployed on the streets of the UK alongside small-scale proof of concepts being trialled in Chile, Ireland and Spain. Char.gy continues to prioritize both research and development, applying agile and Lean Startup methodologies, as well as the fostering of strong resident, supplier and public sector relationships. Parallel to business growth has been the increase in optimism surrounding the UK’s ability to meet the responsibilities set out by the Climate Change Act. Even if it means one parking bay at a time, we must do everything that we can



Kassie Paschke, Char.gy


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