Current solutions for independents are few and far between but Gilbarco Veeder-Root (GVR) thinks it has the answer with its new RTM solution, which is launching this month
A lot of forecourt retailers have taken a ‘wait and see’ approach to adopting EV charging at their sites - and understandably so.
Current solutions for independents are few and far between but Gilbarco Veeder-Root (GVR) thinks it has the answer with its new RTM solution, which is launching this month (February).
Graham Tunks, e-Mobility business development manager at GVR, explains: “When you buy an EV charger from us, you are not just buying a product, you’re buying a solution and with the RTM Series we are providing a complete turnkey solution with way more flexibility than other solutions.”
He says the major benefits of the RTM are its small footprint (each one measures 1,998mm x 850mm x 309mm) meaning it needs less civil works, its electronics are IP65 rated protected, and its low operating costs. Unlike other rapid chargers, the RTM has liquid cooling inside rather than a fan, filter or air purifier. This means it needs checking just once every five years instead of having an annual check costing hundreds of pounds a year. In addition, it means the unit doesn’t need to be opened up and therefore gives it much greater flexibility as to where it can be sited ie against a wall or back-to-back with another charger. There is also advertising capability as the machines have a big flat front that can be stickered with branding or promotions.
GVR will be offering an RTM50 (50kW) and an RTM75 (75kW). The RTM50 starts at £18,000. There are three models ,with options available as well such as a card reader. The machines are made so they can be easily upgraded. For example, anyone buying the 50kW version can purchase an extra 25kW of power and it can be configured quickly.
Another major plus point of the RTM is that it offers simultaneous charging, something that is quite new in the market. Each dispenser has two types of charge points: the European standard CCS cable for European cars (and also the new Tesla 3 model), and the Chademo Japanese standard for Nissan, Mazdas etc. Tunks explains: “If someone driving a BMW is plugged into the RTM using the CCS cable and a Nissan Leaf drives up, the Nissan driver can plug in and both cars can charge together as the RTM has individual power packs inside.”
The chargers will be connected to GVR’s own network: “Forecourts can brand them themselves if they wish to,” says Tunks. “They operate the chargers, set the price and decide whether they want to offer contactless or pay through a phone app.”
The RTMs are made by a company called Tritium. Says Tunks: “Tritium currently has 4,000 fast and ultra-fast DC chargers installed around the world so it has a lot of experience in the market.”
Meanwhile, GVR’s end-to-end e-mobility capabilities include everything from site feasibility studies, to civil works and full after-sales service, maintenance and support.
Tunks says many people think that if they buy an EV, they need a charger at home. “Obviously they don’t, as you don’t have your own fuel station at home.”
Visibility is key
He says that if you install a new EV charger on your site, visibility is key, making sure people know about it. “The big benefit of having electric chargers on forecourts is that everyone knows where their local petrol station is.
“Another common misconception is that you have to do a complete charge every time, but you don’t. Forecourt locations are great for a top-up charge, where drivers plug their car in for 10 minutes,
and go in the store to buy coffee or do a bit of shopping while they are waiting. Yes, the cheapest way to charge an EV is from home but there will always be cases where people are caught out and will need a fast charge.”
Tunks expects the new machines to be a big success: “EVs is an emerging market but it gathered a lot of pace through 2020. I can see forecourts taking one of our machines to start with and seeing how they get on before scaling up their charging operation.”
GVR also offers back-end management software to keep fuel retailers in touch with their charging data.
Says Tunks: “Access to quality data is going to be invaluable when it comes to assessing return on investment and ultimately deciding to take the leap to expand their EV charger estate further.”
Quick and easy
One retailer who has already embraced EV charging on his forecourt is Steve Jones at Spar Thetford. “We’ve had a couple of InstaVolt rapid chargers on our site for the past couple of years,” says Steve. “InstaVolt dealt with all the infrastructure and pay rental to use our space. The chargers are surprisingly well used. One of the main reasons we put them in is that we have a lot of fuel card customers who come along, they buy their fuel and never spend money in the shop. Yet with EV charging customers, they plug in then have half an hour to spend on the site, buying a Costa coffee, a sandwich and a newspaper etc so in many ways they are better for business than the fuel card customers. Our site is on Zap-Map and the charger has definitely brought new customers to our site and resulted in good footfall.”
Steve is also impressed with InstaVolt’s reliability – and it’s not just him who is impressed. For the third year running, electric car drivers across the UK named InstaVolt as their favourite charging network for multiple brands of EV.
In the biggest annual survey of its kind published by Zap-Map, respondents commented on InstaVolt’s reliability, modern technology, ease of use and contactless card payment solution.
InstaVolt was also named Best Universal Charging Provider in the 2021 Driving Electric Awards. The category was new for 2021, recognising the growing number of charging networks springing up across the UK. The award was given for ease of use, accessibility and affordability.
InstaVolt operates an ‘open charger’ model, so anyone can use its charging points on a pay-as-you-go basis. No monthly subscription or membership cards are required with drivers just needing a contactless payment card to start a session.
Adrian Keen, InstaVolt’s CEO, says: “We have chargers in all four corners of the country: from Aberdeen to Padstow and Tenby to Lowestoft. One of the keys to our success is that we always put ourselves in the position of the motorist. What they want is a charging station that is rapid and reliable. Being clean and well maintained is also important because it all adds to the experience. Our investment in the maintenance of the network has paid dividends and has been instrumental in our growth and attracting major brands like McDonalds, KFC, Costa Coffee and Bannatyne Leisure as our partners.”
Shell Recharge currently has over 90 EV charge posts available across the UK but its aim is to have 200 Shell Recharge points on forecourts in the UK by the end of this year. Shell is also planning to convert a central London conventional fuels service station into an electric vehicle charging hub that will feature 10 high powered, 150kW charging points. The aim is to open it this year.
GeniePoint’s nationwide expansion plan
According to Alex Bamberg, managing director of Engie EV Solutions, the GeniePoint Network is continuously expanding nationwide, offering mainly rapid charging facilities at conveniently located sites such as forecourts, supermarket and local authority car parks, as well as main arterial roads. “We want using the network to be quick and easy, so GeniePoint Network chargers are located where drivers want to stop for a break, shop or work, which means they don’t have to travel out of their way to refuel their vehicle,” he says, adding that the GeniePoint Network is provided at over 60 forecourts and Morrisons supermarkets now have over 200 rapid GeniePoint chargers nationwide.
“Using the GeniePoint Network is easy – drivers can register using the GeniePoint app – from the App Store or Google Play. There is no registration fee and drivers can start charging as soon as they have registered. The app enables them to use any of the chargers on the GeniePoint Network or partner networks, quickly and easily. Alternatively for complete flexibility, drivers can charge as a guest and some of our chargers also offer contactless payment which enables a credit or debit card to be used to pay.”
The Network is powered by Engie’s GeniePoint Platform, a powerful back-office software solution that is fully flexible to work across multiple network and hardware platforms. It is used to manage and operate the company’s partner networks – Revive in the West of England and Dragon Charging in Wales – and, importantly, drivers don’t have to register with multiple networks to use any of the charging networks.
The GeniePoint Network also includes around 2,000 sockets at workplace locations. “Businesses benefit from their own charging facilities to ensure their vehicles are fully charged and ready for operation with the confidence that there is also a public charging network to support their transport requirements,” says Bamberg.
10.7% UK market share of battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles (SMMT)
50% Half of all motorists don’t feel ready to make the switch to an EV by 2035 (SMMT)