Energy and services company Centrica is to launch a new service offering easier control and monitoring of charging for electric fleets, following its latest investment in a cloud-based management platform.
The group’s Centrica Innovations division has made a multi-million-pound investment in Israeli startup Driivz, which offers end-to-end software solutions for electric vehicle (EV) charging. Ombu Group, a leading investor in advanced industrial technology companies, co-led the investment, which forms part of a £9m ($12m) funding round.
Established in 2012, Driivz has developed a cloud-based EV charging operating system that offers charging network operators, car manufacturers and utilities an end-to-end solution to manage all aspects of EV deployment from charging, account management and driver billing, through to onsite power management that allows businesses to optimise output to chargers in line with site energy demand and costs.
The new platform will be integrated into a new intelligent EV charging service offer for businesses from Centrica Electric Vehicle Services (CEVS). The fully managed solution has been developed to meet the needs of organisations that want EV charging facilities for their employees and/or their depot-based fleets.
It will also provide drivers with access to a self-service portal that gives total control over their EV charging needs, from managing their account and setting payment plans, to planning tools that help to identify, reserve and navigate to their next charging point.
The new solution builds on the company’s existing experience in workplace charging; it’s installed more than 4,000 workplace chargers to date, including Transport for London’s £18m EV charging scheme, which aims to install 300 fast charging points in the capital by 2020.
A company spokesperson said the firm’s increasing focus on EVs is in line with the predicted trend that e-LCVs will reach total cost of ownership parity with petrol/diesel vans in the early 2020s, “meaning that beyond 2020, businesses with large operational EV fleets stand to save money, and those who don’t make the switch could become uncompetitive on a cost basis. Fleet electrification can also offer companies the chance to shrink their environmental footprint by buying renewable energy/RECS from their energy supplier to supply their cars from renewable energy.”
The launch of the new solution will also help with managing such demand and the concerns over the resultant impact on the grid.
Jonathan Tudor, director of technology and innovation strategy for Centrica Innovations, added: “With 14 million EVs expected on UK roads by 2030, there can be no doubt that e-mobility will have a significant impact on how we manage the delicate balance of supply and demand to the grid.
“This investment is a key opportunity for Centrica to support growing customer demand and work in partnership with Driivz to explore new offers for customers that connect home, work and on-the-road car charging, while also evaluating the role of EVs and potential vehicle-to-grid applications as part of the future energy landscape.”