"It’s all about the Charlottes,” says Joel Teague, CEO of Co Charger, a new company that claims to have the answer to that rather large elephant in the EV room: how to charge your car at home when you don’t have a charger, never mind a driveway.
According to Co Charger, at least 40% of UK residents live in properties where installing a private charger isn’t an option, such as flats or terraced houses. For them, EV ownership is impossible unless they can charge at work (to where fewer people travel these days) or they have a public charger nearby (that works).
Co Charger addresses this problem by enabling the 200,000 or so people with a parking space and a charger at home to share them with their neighbours who have neither. He calls such people hosts and their customers chargees.
Some chargees might already have an electric car, but Teague says that Co Charger’s main aim is to attract those thousands of people who would have if only they could charge it conveniently, reliably and affordably. The company’s phone app makes this possible, he claims.
“The idea for the service came to me when I took delivery of my first EV, a Renault Zoe, but was having to wait for my home charger to be fitted,” he says. “I asked an EV-owning neighbour if I could borrow his charger for a few quid each time I needed it. It was a light-bulb moment when I thought of all those people who would like an EV but who don’t have a driveway on which to charge it; they could borrow a neighbour’s.”
And that brings us to Charlotte Hancock. She lives near Exeter and is one of those people who Teague thought would benefit from his idea. Previously an EV dreamer without a charger or a driveway, she’s now, thanks to a Co Charger host who has both, on course to get her first EV.
“We had considered buying an electric car, but because we don’t have a driveway on which to charge it, we ruled it out and soldiered on with our Skoda Superb diesel,” she says. “Then we became aware of Co Charger. We downloaded the app and found a host less than half a mile away who would let us use their driveway and charger. We immediately decided to replace our Superb with the new Skoda Enyaq iV electric SUV.”
Hancock reckons the slightly higher charging cost (hosts can set their own minimum price, but around £1.70 per hour is typical) compared with a public charger is more than offset by the convenience and reliability of the private charger.
“I think that those people who are willing to share their driveway and charger will encourage more people like me to make the switch to electric cars,” she says. “It’s a great idea.”
It’s not an original one, though. Jeremy Coulter co-founded BookMyCharge in 2017; like Co Charger, it has an app that enables EV owners to make their driveway and charger available to others. “We had the idea for the company when my partner and I were planning to drive to Dartmouth in our BMW i3 and realised the town had no public charging points,” he says. “We had to abandon the plan, but it got us thinking about how peer-to-peer sharing might have helped us.”