Electric expert: Interview with Dora Clarke from Osprey Charging

Motoring |
15th April 2022
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YourParkingSpace is running a series of interviews, asking some of the most knowledgable people in the electric vehicle market their views on EVs and electric vehicle charging.

This week it is the turn of Osprey Charging’s Dora Clarke, Head of Marketing and Communications for the public charging network. 

Osprey is one of the largest public rapid charging networks in the UK, with a wide range of accessibility options, and a good reputation amongst EV drivers borne out by regular high placing in reliability surveys.

What are Osprey’s plans for the near and short term future, in terms of building out and developing its public EV charging network?

Osprey’s long-term ambition is to create, maintain and grow the highest quality EV charging network of the future. In the near-term, this means finishing 2022 with over 650 rapid charging points live for our customers (not just installed in the ground).

In doubling the charger numbers, however, we won’t be compromising on location quality – so you’ll see most of these going into 6+ charger hub sites next to coffee, retail and attractions on major routes.

We’re still planning to improve local infrastructure by installing ‘compact urban’ charging too, using market-leading tech (both hardware, and proprietary software) that allows our network to be used easily by a wide variety of fleets and roaming partners.

Finally, we’re improving accessibility for those with reduced mobility on all our new sites, influencing landlords to grant us the space required to do this, and even starting a programme of upgrades and retro-fitting to older sites to bring many of them up to standard.

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Are there any exciting new developments that you are looking forward to seeing rolled-out in the near future?

Following the first two load-balancing hubs ever installed in the UK (at Costa Spring Road and Banbury Cross Retail Park), we’ll be launching another two hubs in the next couple of months this year.

We’re really excited to introduce more accessible site layouts, load-balancing again to improve bay turnover, and our first canopy to keep our customers dry from the summer showers!

What do you feel is done well in the public EV charging space in the UK?

Accessible payments – via contactless bank card – so there’s no membership or account barrier to starting a charge.

The shift towards big hub sites with high-power chargers next to amenities. It feels like the main national networks really get this, and are starting to roll out this large-scale infrastructure.

The growing focus on safety whilst charging.

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And what can be improved?

Whilst it feels like reliability is still an issue, many of the stories are from the large numbers of older, legacy, small-site chargers that aren’t benefitting from good maintenance. Inevitably these are the ones that journalists go to! However, reliability reports are good on the major national networks, and so it’s actually the public perception of charger numbers and reliability and trust that there will be enough, that needs to improve.

The leading nationwide networks as a whole do therefore need to continue to build out their sites with high-power, multiple charger hubs, as well as rapid and reliable smaller sites that serve more populous areas with less off-street parking. 

This is all possible with the many billions of pounds of private investment already committed to developing UK public charging through leading networks like Osprey. Where connecting to the grid is prohibitively expensive, or where the population is lower such that an installation is less commercially viable, government funding can help bridge the gap and ensure great charging is installed for all.

Assistance for local authorities in running effective tenders and installing infrastructure for the long-term, is also an area for improvement – and one that the government could address.

What role do you think parking companies such as YourParkingSpace can play in the switch to EVs?

Parking companies have a key role to play in making the public charging experience as smooth and seamless as possible. 

Whether this the physical space and encouraging landowners to bring in a charging provider, or integrating software to allow for easy park-and-charge payments in one go.

Where do you see the EV charging market in three years’ time?

An ecosystem of different charging solutions for the different use cases of a more mature market. Within this, hundreds of high-power hubs with a minimum standard of comfort and reliability – from motorway services to drive-thru Starbucks, to en-route tourist attractions.

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What EV do you drive - and what’s your dream car?

I drive a Kia e-Niro, and the dream is a Volkswagen ID. Buzz!

How many electric miles do you cover each (non-Covid impacted) year?

Approximately 8,000 miles.

Who do you think is doing well in positively influencing the EV and EV charging space?

Our energy supplier and partner Octopus Energy / Octopus Electric Vehicles.

AllStar is doing a brilliant job of getting fleets to go electric, along with smaller fleet offerings through Paua and Mina.

Marston’s took a bold decision as a pub group to become the UK’s most sustainable, and have made charging available at over 100 restaurants, which sends such a positive message to drivers.

Dora has been marketing Osprey for more than 4 years, leading the re-name and growth of the business into a well-known and trusted UK brand. Prior to Osprey, Dora was the communications lead for Electric Vehicles at Meridian Energy in New Zealand.

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