AA and Chargemaster partner to encourage EV uptake
05 July 2016
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
The AA has partnered with leading charging point supplier Chargemaster to help encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.
As part of the deal, AA members will receive a guide outlining the benefits of EVs, helping to dispel myths surrounding electric vehicle ownership.
AA members will also receive a 10% discount on the use of Chargemaster's Polar public charging network, as well as a discount on the cost of installing home units, though Edmund King, president of the AA, told BusinessCar an agreement on the level of discount is still being worked on.
The partnership will also encourage all AA-accredited hotels to install AA-branded Chargemaster charging points for free, with David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster explaining that hotels are an "obvious place to charge" and that a connection is "a right, like free wifi". Martell hopes the partnership will end a process of EV owners having to dangle a lead out of a window overnight in order to recharge their vehicles.
"Hotels opens up the mainstream use of EVs and within five years, every hotel should have a charging point," Martell added.
Both Martell and King claim that the industry is at a "tipping point" for EV sales, with the AA predicting half a million ULEVs will be on the country's roads by 2020. Alongside the guide, the companies will operate a helpline to answer questions from customers. "Dealers often don't know about EVs when people go in [to buy one]," Martell added.
According to research by the breakdown giant, 96% of people overestimate the cost of installing a charging point, while King claimed that two million vehicles could be swapped for EVs without any disadvantages to the owners.
King also announced that the AA would include the cost of electricity alongside the price of fuel on its website. "We need to normalize EVs," he told BusinessCar. The company is also in the process of investing £100m into its IT department and from next year, the AA's route planner will suggest places for users to recharge their electric vehicles en-route and the firm's app will be able to show whether points in the Polar network are in use when the user checks the app.
Additionally, King revealed that companies with EVs on their fleets will have cheaper membership and breakdown prices in the future "as there's less that goes wrong the cars" when compared to conventional petrol and diesel-powered models.
Inductive charging here within five years
According to Chargemaster boss David Martell, inductive charging - which allows vehicles to wirelessly recharge - will allow "10-plus" cars to charge in an office car park at the same time and will be available within the next five years.
The next Mercedes-Benz S-class plug-in hybrid will come with inductive charging capabilities from 2018, and the technology will then work its way down onto cheaper vehicles, Martell told BusinessCar.
Chargemaster uses inductive charging technology under licence by wireless technology giant Qualcomm, and Graeme Davison, vice president of technology at Qualcomm told BusinessCar that he expects the next generation of EVs will come with two types of charging - inductive and the traditional plug.
The Formula E electric racing car series currently uses inductive charging from Qualcomm/Chargemaster to recharge its safety and medical cars, and Martell explained that the system could be a breakthrough for taxi ranks and valet parking areas.
Meanwhile, Martell said he expects the Government will make a "significant announcement" within the next couple of months regarding charging points on trunk roads in the UK.