Liberty Charge, the electric vehicle charging infrastructure company founded by Virgin Media parent company Liberty Global, has become the latest member of Smart Transport.
Liberty Charge works in partnership with Local Authorities, Charge Point Operators and other eMobility players to deliver power and connectivity infrastructure for on street Electric Vehicle (EV) charging in residential areas leveraging Virgin Media’s infrastructure assets and build capabilities.
Smart Transport membership facilitates relationships between senior transport public policymakers/advisers and the private sector transport mobility sector through 1-2-1 networking, collaboration and the sharing of information, opinion and analysis in a neutral and confidential environment.
Jason Simpson, Liberty Charge founder and board director, said: “We joined Smart Transport as a member due to the organisation having a very strategic view of the future of transport.
"Being a member helps us to understand the views of key government departments and combined authorities in relation to how transport policy is evolving and enables us to discuss the opportunities and challenges as they see them.
"We also appreciate the opportunity to engage with other commercial organisations who operate in the same landscape but have a different and equally valuable perspective.
“Central and local government, as well as Charge Point Operators, ride hailing and shared mobility operators will all be partners with us on this journey to deliver charging infrastructure across the UK at scale so this is a great opportunity to listen to them and also share our views.
"There are going to be some really valuable insights and discussions as a result of Smart Transport facilitating this network of peers.”
Stephen Briers, Smart Transport editor-in-chief, welcomed Liberty Charge to the growing list of members, that now includes ABB, ALD Automotive, AECOM, BP, Centrica, Daf Trucks, Enterprise, FedEx, Geotab, Heathrow, Liberty Charge, Macquarie Bank, Phil Jones Associates and Renault.
Briers said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has pulled the need to accelerate the switch to EVs into even greater focus and it’s essential that investors and innovators like Liberty Charge are represented as part of Smart Transport forum discussions.
"A cross industry approach between both the private and public sectors will be vital in addressing the charging infrastructure challenges the UK is facing as we move towards net zero and the ban on the internal combustion engine by 2035 or sooner.”
The next phase
Simpson said Liberty Charge, a joint venture between Liberty Global and private equity firm Zouk Capital, is at its next phase of development and has the ambition to roll out tens of thousands of charging points, rather than just hundreds.
Zouk is also the manager of the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund (CIIF), the dedicated fund established by the UK government in 2019 and backed by HM Treasury to help develop public charging infrastructure points for EVs throughout the UK.
Neil Isaacson is Liberty Charge’s chief executive and is leading the next phase of market development activities as they start to ramp up over the next 12 months.
Local and combined authorities are facing big challenges
Simpson said that in a post-Covid-19 world, local and combined authorities are facing a number of big challenges to deliver future towns and cities.
These include the level of capacity for public transport, which is likely to be reduced to between 15-25% for at least another six months and for potentially up to two years as the Covid-19 virus keeps commuters away from train and bus networks.
Simpson said that as people start to return to work over the summer and towards the end of this year, they will still need to be able to safely commute.
He added: “An increase in active travel is really great news and we’re very supportive of the e-scooter trials and already work in close partnership with Ginger Town, a British start up in this space, but the role of EVs has also to be actively encouraged by the government.
If not, this could mean a return to worsening air quality levels and congestion if the switch to EVs and other eMobility solutions isn’t accelerated.”
Simpson said this means there needs to be solutions for charging infrastructure to make it even easier for drivers to make the switch to EVs, particularly for the 40% of those who live in towns and cities that don’t have access to a private driveway for a charge point.
He also said transport authorities, who were under pressure on parking capacity even before Covid-19, will have charging infrastructure at the forefront of their minds now more than ever due to many transport authorities now declaring “climate emergencies” and a renewed focus on a green recovery for their transport planning.
Simpson added: “Right now EV charging is about energy and getting it to the vehicles, but in 10 years it’s going to be about data and connectivity services.
"It’s why we’re investing heavily under the pavement where 80% of the infrastructure goes. We will offer plug and play power and connectivity solutions under the pavement so charge point providers can easily install their posts at street level.
"There is going to be much more data offload from vehicles, particularly as they become even more connected and autonomous.
"Much of that data doesn’t need to be real time so doing that over fixed WiFi points near charging points through the capabilities of operators like Virgin Media is going to be the most efficient option, particularly if you can do it during off-peak times for bandwidth in the middle of the night.
"There is going to be a very close ecosystem between telecoms companies and vehicle charging in the future.”