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The importance of innovation

14th July 2019


It seems to be award ceremony application season at the moment, a time when inboxes are flooded with reminders to put forward applications for a variety of categories.

While operating in an industry centred on carbon reduction and improving air quality, demonstrating your business’ environmental conscience is a day to day occurrence that can often be taken for granted.

Alfa Power is a business embodied by entrepreneurship but harbours significant philanthropy at its core, striving with a purpose to genuinely make a difference to the environment. Reward and recognition for this effort is not necessarily its ultimate goal, but acknowledgement from your peers that you are making an impact is something from which every business will benefit. It certainly got us thinking about where we have added value in our relatively short time in the industry, and on reflection, we decided the achievements are significant and something for which we should be very proud.

Alfa Power established itself as a highly regarded operator in the EV charging sector through achieving a succession of UK firsts in only its first year of trading. In order to raise the company profile, we felt it was essential to find ways to differentiate your business from your contemporaries and stand out from the crowd in a market loaded with creativity and aspiration.

Alfa Power was the first CPO to disrupt the rapid charging infrastructure landscape. A pioneering approach led the company to the first install of hardware over and above the previously uniform 50kW benchmark. Being innovative and first to market are both company core principles, and in breaking the 50kW benchmark with a 60kW charger, this achievement marked the company’s first milestone. While this in itself was a relatively modest advancement on the existing infrastructure in the market, it set the tone for bigger and better things.

Striving to improve customer experience has been a focal point to drive innovation. The business also opted for versatile modular high spec hardware that can be upgraded intermittently to match automotive developments and requirements. Our preferred rapid hardware can charge four cars from a singular charging station, including the unique capability to deliver both DC variables at the same time. This unique offering is, we feel, a huge stride forward for customer experience in the UK market.

Alfa was also first to market in breaking their own 60 kW benchmark with the introduction of the UK’s first 120kW charger. This charger was launched in Winter 2018 to mark our first anniversary, and it simultaneously sent a message to the industry and put Alfa Power under the spotlight.

To reach this milestone, we upgraded a 4 in 1 charger located in Leeds City Centre to this high-end specification rating, providing an immediate option to cater for the newly released Jaguar iPace.

News of our latest milestone was published on the go-to industry digital news platform Electrive as well as several other channels such as Current, Zap-Map and Electrek.

One could argue that this charger was the catalyst for change in the UK market, even if that change was inevitable.

A few months after Alfa Power installed a 120kW charger, FastNed introduced a 175 kW ultra-fast charging hub in Sunderland. Shortly after this, they were eclipsed by Ionity and their 350 kW hub in Maidstone.

Alfa Power took a humble approach in congratulating FastNed, and handing over their mantle of owning and operating the UK’s fastest charger when they launched their hub in Sunderland. The reality is that it was good for the industry as a whole, and Alfa Power recognised this. As a result, it served only to push our team to react in the best way possible.

With Ionity winning the UK race to 350 kW, Alfa Power set its sights on finding other ways to innovate and excite its audience. The Alfa Power team are themselves a collective of EV drivers, so naturally, they care about what is genuinely important to the EV driver.

Market research led us to seek out a solution for the invertor restriction that results in marginalised AC acceptance in the majority of existing EVs when destination charging.

With the introduction of Semi Rapid DC technology (25kW) into the public charging network, Alfa Power introduced another unique offering. They realised it would ideally suit environments that offer a 1-2 hour dwell time such as gyms, sports clubs, restaurants and similar.

Perhaps an even more pertinent issue to today’s EV driver is something we have noticed since starting to install charge points across the UK — ICE’ing. This term refers to an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle parking in a bay designated for electric vehicle’s only. We realised our bays, like all other EV bays, were being ICE’d. This is not only a problem for the charge point operator and/or owner due to the loss of revenue, but it is also infuriating for the EV driving community.

Alfa Power has developed a much-needed solution by setting up EV Parking Management, a parking enforcement agency aimed explicitly at issuing Parking Charge Notices to any non-plug-in vehicles parked in energised bays.

The added value is that the camera also offers safety and security for the driver and acts as a deterrent to thieves and vandals from approaching the unattended vehicles. Inadvertently it also serves as a means to capture some entertaining video content that clearly demonstrates the lack of awareness and education around EV infrastructure.

If you regularly follow our social media channels, you will no doubt have enjoyed the recently published video that went viral on multiple platforms. We actually have several other videos of a similar nature that we intend to share with you over the coming weeks and months that further demonstrate the need for better public information and awareness campaigns around the technology.

When we released this footage, it also sparked considerable interest amongst the EV community about why there was a camera installed at one of our charging locations. When it became apparent that we were piloting a deterrent against ICEing, the feedback was unreservedly positive, and we are now doing our utmost to get this solution universally market ready for all. We hope it will be a gamechanger in the battle against combustion engine vehicles carelessly parking in dedicated EV charging bays.

The company are currently rolling out their CCTV and ANPR systems on Alfa Power sites, and the technology will also be available to the broader EV community very soon.

Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning that Alfa Power is also very proud of its marketing and social media content which has eclipsed its rivals when measured against pro-rata audience growth and interactions.

Innovative and diverse multimedia content has proved to be a significant differentiator, delighting audiences on a range of platforms. Some of the favourites can be found on our YouTube channel.

We have proved that innovation and creativity can be achieved on a relatively low budget. Smaller businesses are undoubtedly more agile and can react more quickly to market needs and demands. Listening to your audience and acting on that information is what can make a real difference.

If upon reading this you have an idea as to how the industry could benefit from a change, please share your thoughts with us, and we will make every effort to incorporate the best ones into our development plan.

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