IN a further sign that energy companies are wanting greater integration within automotive, comes the news that today EDF had purchased a majority stake in Pod Point, the charging provider (February 13, 2020).
EDF Group is the world’s largest energy generator and already provides low-carbon and lower off-peak electric vehicle tariffs under its ‘GoElectric’ banner.
In addition, EDF also offers the opportunity to lease an electric vehicle through EV leasing broker specialist DriveElectric.
The electricity giant says that the majority stake in PodPoint – part of a joint venture with Legal & General Capital – will allow EDF to offer quality installations of charging solutions as part of even more attractive EV deals.
For its part, Pod Point says the acquisition will help it accelerate the national rollout of charging points enabling more drivers to go electric.
Erik Fairbairn, Pod Point CEO & founder who is pictured above, commented:
“This is an incredibly exciting next chapter for Pod Point. We set out in 2009 with the vision that travel shouldn’t damage the earth and a mission to put a charge point everywhere you park. So far, we have made great progress towards those goals.
“By joining up with EDF we can take things to the next level and accelerate our national roll out of charging points and make it even easier for drivers across the UK to go electric. I’m immensely proud of what the Pod Point team has already achieved but think it is only a fraction of what we will now be able to do with EDF. We just took a big step forward in being able to deliver against our mission!”
EDF says it has crunched data that suggests a low carbon grid, featuring new renewables and nuclear, and switching the 32 million petrol and diesel cars on UK roads to electric, would avoid 65 million tonnes of CO2, and shrink Britain’s overall carbon footprint by more than 10 per cent.
Pod Point is EDF Group’s biggest EV investment. It forms part of its plan to become the leading energy company for electric mobility in the UK, France, Italy and Belgium.
What’s the EDF/Pod Point deal?
Pod Point says its acquisition will help it achieve the company’s vision of a world where travel doesn’t damage the earth.
It will also enable it to accelerate the roll-out of charging infrastructure, making it even easier for UK drivers to go electric.
Pod Point’s charging solutions will become part of EDF’s market-leading EV offers in the UK.
Legal & General will take a c23% stake in EDF’s newly-formed joint venture.
Why do utilities want to get into automotive?
According to Perry Stoneman, energy & utilities global sector leader at Capgemini, in a company podcast, it’s because it offers significant growth opportunity.
“As we start to move from fossil fuels to electrification of transportation, the utilities have a chance to gain in delivery of electricity and revenue. The early impacts on the grid will be insignificant because 80% of electric vehicles today are charged at home, and the vast majority of that charging is at night.
“So the impact on the grid today is insignificant, but the opportunity on revenue growth is significant.”
Michael J Coren, writing in Quartz (an insights provider for new-style business leaders), says that:
“In Europe, 79% of the public charging infrastructure is operated by utilities and oil companies.”
Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), a primary research service, believes 2020 will be a key year for EVs in Europe. In its predictions for 2020, BNEF writes:
“Most automakers are on track to miss their 2020-2021 fleet-wide CO2 targets and will need to sell significantly more plug-in vehicles than the 500,000 they moved in 2019. We expect European sales to come in just over 800,000, with growth especially strong in the second half of the year as VW ramps up production of the ID.3. Watch sales in the U.K. and Germany in particular.”
In the UK of course, we saw fuel company BP buy up Chargemaster in June 2018 saying that is wanted to scale up the deployment of fast and ultra-fast charging network on BP’s UK forecourts.
Shell too has been moving itself away from an oil producer towards an energy provider. In March 2019 it bought First Utility, a domestic gas and electricity provider, before rebranding it to Shell Energy.
Then in July that year, EV location provider Zap-Map announced that Shell was the first to open a high-power 150kW electric vehicle charger on a forecourt in Battersea, south west London.
There are other ways the utility providers are cosying up to the automotive space. We’ve already mentioned that EDF has a leasing offer delivered through leasing broker DriveElectric. Octopus Energy has its own leasing brokerage called Octopus EV that offers car leases on electric vehicles.
It’s symptomatic of utility providers recognising the astonishing growth opportunities that electrification provides.
As the UK ramps up its electrification programme to meet the government’s stated aim to stop selling petrol, diesel and hybrid powered vehicles by 2035, we can expect more of the same from the energy companies as they attempt to control the customer in-life, from car leasing to electricity provider.