One of the main issues for people thinking about buying an electric vehicle is whether they have access or not to a spot to re-charge it. In cities like Paris or Rome, where the average citizen lives in a building and parks her or his car on the street, this issue could be crucial and could be the decider between buying a full electric vehicle or rather choose one of the hybrid vehicles available on the car market.
Char.gy charger was designed just for that, as it is an Electric Vehicles charger attached to a lampposts.
The potential of this system is unlimited as – if successful – there could be chargers on every lamppost and this will allow more people to buy EVs with serious benefits on the environment.
Impakter has reached to Char.gy founder Richard Stobart and asked some questions about his company. Let’s see what he has to say.
What inspired you to start Char.gy?
Richard Stobart: A couple of years ago my digital agency, Unboxed, was looking for products to build, instead of always building products for our customers.
I live in London where the houses are very close together and many do not have off-street parking. In fact, 70% of drivers in London do not have access to off-street parking. I wanted to buy an electric car or PHEV but there was nowhere to charge it. I saw that there was a lamppost right outside my house with electricity and so I took the idea of putting a charge point on lampposts to Unboxed and we started looking at possible solutions.
Fortuitously, at the time a friend of mine was staying with me for a couple of days. He was looking for a company to invest in and he had an engineering associate that could help us with the prototype. Our first iteration was built in a cardboard shoe box. We quite progressed from that to a working version in a metal box attached to a lamppost in a private parking lot.
What are you aiming to do with Char.gy?
R. S. : Char.gy wants to make charge points so common that no-one even thinks about where they are going to charge their electric car. There are many existing solutions for at home charging or destination and motorway charging. We want to fill the big gap in the middle of those two end of the spectrum and provide ubiquitous charging on-street so drivers can charge their cars while they sleep.
How many clients do you have so far? Where is your system available? Are you looking into other regions too?
R. S. : We are rolling our this month to some boroughs in London and some regions in the UK. There has been interest from the USA, Canada, Norway, New Zealand and Ireland.
What do you think needs to be done to promote the use of EVs in cities?
R. S. : There are several reasons why people are slow to take up electric cars. Some of the reasons are no longer valid like there are no reasonably priced cars with decent ranges and that there is nowhere to charge the cars. Other reasons just need a change of attitude – some people just like the sound of petrol engines.
Other reasons are that there is not a very well established second-hand market to get access to cheap cars and that people want to be able to charge on their street where they park. Finally this is happening. Cities have clearly got the EV revolution on their agenda because they see the benefits of reducing pollution.
Most cities are looking at a full range of mobility issues – encouraging more walking and cycling, improving public transport links, encouraging taxis, delivery vehicles and public transport to switch to electric vehicles but are also encouraging private drivers to switch to electric.
How do you think Char.gy could help reaching SDGs?
R. S. : We believe that providing solutions to allow people to switch to electric vehicles is one small but important piece in the puzzle. We only use renewable energy sources and we encourage the uptake of electric cars. What we really want to see is governments accelerating their efforts to ensure that we stop destroying the planet.
In the cover picture: An electric car getting charged with Char.gy charger. Photo Credits: Char.gy