Pod Point CEO Erik Fairbairn says UK on cusp of major electric vehicle boom, while EDF is reportedly moving closer to sealing a £110m deal for the firm
French power giant EDF is on the cusp of sealing a deal for electric vehicle charging firm Pod Point, according to reports.
Sky reported the two were in talks last October. The I newspaper now suggests the state-owned generator has agreed outline terms to pay £110 million for 100 per cent control of Pod Point, which has amassed one the largest UK EV charging networks. Both stories cite unnamed sources.
Founded in 2009 by Erik Fairbairn and Peter Hiscocks, Pod Point now operates more than 1,700 charge points. In 2018 it struck a deal with Tesco to install 2,400 chargers across in 600 stores by 2022. It also supplies Lidl and other clients include Skanska, Europcar, Uber and Mitie.
The start-up has seen successive rounds of private equity financing; the latest in 2017 valued it at £37million, though Legal & General acquired a 13 per cent stake last April. According to reports, months of talks with EDF have seen Pod Point’s largest shareholders approving the £110m deal in principle.
Should the transaction conclude, potentially as soon as next week, it would mark another significant milestone in EDF’s plan to become a major player in electric mobility. The firm has committed to become the European leader by 2022.
EDF took on Pivot Power last month, which will require significant investment to build out its proposed network of transmission connected 50MW batteries. It hopes to later convert the storage facilities to a network of high powered EV charging hubs capable of ultrafast charging speeds.
EDF also has an interest in vehicle-to-grid company Nuvve, while in the automotive sector it has partnered with Nissan and Valeo.
The state-owned firm has committed to developing 10GW of storage by 2035 – and electric vehicles may form a significant part of that picture.
Pod Point and EDF were approached for comment.
Pod Point CEO: UK electric vehicle market set to boom
Speaking to The Energyst last month about general market trends, Pod Point CEO Erik Fairbairn suggested the UK EV market is set to rapidly accelerate.
“It feels like we are in the moment where we will look back and say this is where it all tipped,” said Fairbairn.
Citing tightening European fleet CO2 standards, incoming benefit in kind (BIK) tax breaks, a major ramp up by manufacturers and increasing public demand, Fairbairn suggested 2020 would deliver “stratospheric growth” with battery electric vehicles potentially representing “15-20 per cent [of UK monthly new car sales] by the year end the way things are going.”
Those kind of numbers would require some 300 per cent growth over the course of this year.
Fairbairn is less bullish on vehicle to grid (V2G), at least in the short term. While EDF is keen to use cars as bidirectional storage, he thinks best value currently lies in smart charging, a viewpoint backed by several recent studies.
“I am not anti V2G,” said Fairbairn. “But from a commercial perspective, it comes after smart charging”, where Pod Point has amassed a significant chunk of flexibility.
By the end of 2020, he said Pod Point’s network will be getting close to “50MW of switching power whenever we are asked” to shift loads in response to local or national grid requirements.
“So we are getting to the stage where we can contribute to a modern smart grid,” he said. “We are a material opportunity for the grid.”
Free B2B electric vehicles event
Speakers from EDF, Pod Point and Nuvve are among a host of experts taking part in panel sessions at The Energyst’s EV Event, 22-23 April, Silverstone. The business-to-business conference and exhibition is free to attend and delegates can drive electric vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover, and hopefully one or two other major OEMs, around the track.
Confirmed speakers and sponsors include:
Arup | Arrival | Arval | Birmingham Airport | BP Chargemaster | BT | Bristol City Council | Cenex | Connected Energy | EDF | Engenie | Gnewt | Jaguar Land Rover | Liberty Global | Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership | Mitie | National Grid | Nottingham City Council | Nuvve | Octopus | Pod Point | Royal Mail | UK Power Networks | UPS | Total | Volvo | Western Power Distribution and more.