23 Nov 2023

EV Roadside Charging: Choosing The Right CPO For Your Business

If you are a local authority, commercial landlord, or developer looking to embark on EV charging, you may quickly find that navigating the world of EV infrastructure is more complex than you might think. Businesses need help identifying who are the right charge point operators (CPO) to work with. 

It is natural to try to find those with the largest portfolios, however, in an emerging and growing market there are many other skills to consider, making it difficult to know what type of experience you should be looking for, and getting it right is critical.

This challenging situation exists because the electric vehicle (EV) and EV charging infrastructure sectors are still relatively nascent, meaning local authorities, landlords and property developers must choose their EV charging partners carefully. CPOs with the right experience can help you to deliver the best in public EV charging.

How to pick a CPO that understands EV roadside charging

Businesses in retail and roadside locations with strong brands may find they have many CPO’s who are keen to work with them, it can be challenging to identify which CPO is the most suitable. Vendor relationships and supply chain complexity make it important to know your CPO well. Selecting the right CPO is essential to ensure EV charging works as effectively as possible. There are some things a business would naturally look for in an EV charging partner, such as:

  • A track record
  • Credibility
  • Experience

In addition, an EV charging site needs to have other essentials for drivers, such as:

  • Being accessible to all drivers
  • A location that feels safe and secure to users
  • Reliable hardware that is easy to use

Indeed, our research found that all these areas are crucial for EV drivers. For example, 77% of respondents will not use public EV charging if it has damaged infrastructure or inadequate payment options. These might be new areas of concern for roadside businesses, but these common issues are all dealt with in a comprehensive CPO partnership.

Why a stable long-term partner is a necessity

A CPO with real experience can ensure the needs of your EV drivers are satisfied. They can also use their experience to make sure the site is future proof. The relationships between a CPO, retail operator, and landlord will inevitably be long-term. Consequently, you must have a stable partner who will be there for your business for the next decade and more.

As the utilisation of charging continues to increase, the growing EV market, and the requirement for more EV charging being greater, landlords must ensure they find the right CPO who can deliver the solution for the next 20 years. Your CPO must have the necessary track record and experience to handle the challenges of asset management, EV charging installation, and charge point operation.

Expertise in electrical infrastructure

Whilst many businesses naturally look for CPOs with the most extensive portfolio of EV chargers, there is far more to consider that can make a significant difference when it comes to working with an CPO.

The main challenge of EV charging isn’t just installing chargers in the ground.

Selecting the right hardware, that is reliable, delivers the right speed, and is easy to use is essential for building a successful EV charging station. Even so, there is still so much more to consider, one of the most challenging parts is understanding how to get power and the power connection. This forms a significant time and cost when building a charging hub, and there are very few CPOs who have the in-house breadth of experience in this critical area.

Which CPOs have the real power?

Therefore, selecting the right CPO means knowing who has direct (in-house) experience in several key areas, including:

  • Delivery of large-scale energy infrastructure 
  • Power connections experience, especially in-house
  • A track record in the management of nationwide installation programmes 
  • Experience in managing and operating energy assets (such as EV Chargers)
  • Track record in buying (and/or trading) large volumes of energy
  • Field based operation and maintenance workforce and skills
  • String covenants with access to funds

It’s essential to seek out CPOs, such at SMS, who can offer the skills and experience of in-house experienced teams.

Selecting the right CPO using the above can make a huge difference in making sure you are working with someone who can genuinely deliver a true end-to-end solution from start (site assessment) to finish (operation and maintenance).

Here at SMS, we have delivered nearly 60,000 commercial power connections across the UK, making us one of the most experienced in the chargepoint sector. Our demonstrable track record stems from a rich partner history of over 25 years. This experience includes delivery of nationwide projects with the UK’s mobile telecoms industry and large-scale infrastructure projects, such as the London 2012 Olympic Park.

And whilst a partner with expertise in power connections and metering is beneficial, working with a partner with lots of experience in the wider energy space is essential. The most successful businesses are working with partners who are able to procure significant amounts of power. Choosing a partner like this helps you to future proof your site and be as competitive as possible.

Using a fully-funded solution for EV roadside charging

While experience can help you identify the right CPO, knowing who will fund the solution is equally, if not more, important.

We remove this barrier to investment by providing a fully-funded solution for all capital and operating costs, supported by the strong covenants of a LSE:AIM250 listed company. This means we invest in the assets at your site, helping you retain and attract new EV drivers to your location and all the added commercial opportunities that come with this, whilst sharing in the lucrative revenues generated through the use of EV chargepoints. This solution includes:

  • All power costs required to connect to the Grid
  • A dedicated power supply, without affecting your current power needs
  • Full design and installation
  • All hardware and signage included
  • Ongoing servicing, repairs & maintenance, and hardware replacement for duration of agreement
  • Promotion and marketing of the site to attract new customers

The importance of covenant strength

A legitimate partner with real commitment that offers you long leases. CPO’s will agree to lease a portion of your car park, as a tenant, in return they will operate and maintain the EV charging solution for the duration of the agreement. The tenant (CPO) pays an agreed rental for the full duration, giving landlords a fixed, guaranteed, income every year.

Retailers and/or site operators must look for partners with a strong track record who provide the necessary covenants and security. CPO’s, like SMS, have strong covenants, a healthy balance sheet, are financially robust, and can deliver for the duration of their leases. Landlords and developers need the peace of mind of working with stable partners.

Ready To Start offering Public EV Charging At Your Site?

The simplest and most logical solution for businesses is to secure a fully managed, fully-funded solution with an experienced CPO. You can earn additional revenue without the stress, the CPO manages everything for you including improving the offering (more chargers) as the EV market evolves.

Ready to work with someone with significant experience? At SMS, we offer end-to-end EV charging solutions to help you maximise revenue and future proof your site. Contact SMS to find out more about our EV roadside charging solutions.