The average home electric vehicle charger is only used a couple of times a week. The rest of the time it’s lonely and neglected. But its owners will have paid anything from £600 to well over £1000 to buy and install it, whether directly or as part of a package with their car.

By putting it to work via Community Charging the charger can earn some of that cost back – whilst also helping neighbours in flats and terraces without chargers of their own go electric. Community charge point sharing is when someone makes their charger available to neighbours for regular, dependable charging. Charger owners or ‘Hosts’ connect with ‘Chargees’ via the Co Charger app, which handles ‘matchmaking’, bookings and payments.

Co Charger is currently the UK’s only purpose-built Community Charging platform. Since its launch in November 2020 it has grown to become the 5th largest charging network in the UK, with over 6,000 users and over 2,300 available charging points, outranking established companies such as Tesla (1,963), Source London (1,602), ChargePlace Scotland (1,925) and Instavolt (663) Zap Map -January 2022.

There are currently only 29,000 public charge points (with 49,000 connectors) and they are often occupied. At the same time, around 400,000 home chargers are standing idle for the vast majority of the time. If only a tenth of them were shared with neighbours, the UK’s electric vehicle charging landscape would be transformed. This additional ‘base’ charging also takes pressure off the public charging infrastructure, reducing queues and enabling more people to use route and destination charging as and when they need it.

How the other half charge

If a motorist is fortunate enough to have their own charger they’ve got it easy. It’s just a case of plugging in their car whenever necessary. However an estimated 15 million motorists living in flats and terraces can’t install a charger at home. For them, going electric can be a daunting prospect. Public charger distribution across the UK is patchy and they might not even have a charger nearby. If they do, most public chargers aren’t bookable, so the hapless motorist could end up doing repeated drive-bys in the hope of finding one that’s both available and working. Then there’s the choice between either walking home and back again to collect it – or sitting around for an extended period, while they wait for the car to charge.

Aspiring EV drivers need good neighbours

What’s stopping more drivers going electric? Says Joel Teague, CEO of Co Charger, ‘The one seemingly immovable blocker, is that if you can’t have a car charger at home, it can be very hard to make the practicalities and running costs of an EV stack up. The option of charging on a neighbour’s driveway can change all that. It’s bookable, reliable and affordable – the next best thing to having a charger of your own.’

If you’ve got an electric vehicle charger – help the other half charge

Charger sharing is easy – and the Host is in control. They can prioritise their own charging schedule and only offer booking slots that are convenient for them. And it’s not about having strangers come onto your property – just a few neighbours who will mostly make regular bookings, so you’ll get to know them.

‘Sometimes the answer isn’t more infrastructure, it’s better use of what we have and through communities helping themselves,’ says Joel Teague. ‘At Co Charger we have shown how willing people are to share their chargers, having come from zero to the 5th largest UK network in 15 months. All it takes is the community of EV charger owners to see the benefits of sharing – to their pockets, to their communities and their planet. We need to encourage a charge point sharing culture in the UK.’

AA President Edmund King supports Community Charger Sharing

Community Charging is supported by Edmund King OBE, the President of the AA who says, ‘More emphasis needs to be given to the third of households with no dedicated off-street parking provision whose residents may struggle to charge their EVs. This is where Community Charging and charge point sharing has a massive role to play.This will be a positive way of levelling up, so we can give power to all electric drivers, no matter where they live.’

Helping the other half charge

There are altruistic benefits to helping others charge too – the relief at finding an available charger near home can be palpable. Just last week, Sheffield motorist, Edward Byward, posted on social media saying ‘As my EV followers know, I cannot charge at home, nor even park outside most days.

‘Helpfully, a neighbour just down the street has gone electric and has off street parking – and has registered his home charge point on @Co_Charger. So now I can charge at his!’

‘The community side is wonderful, and a strong element of what Community charging is about,’ says Joel. ‘It increases interaction between neighbours and whilst some Hosts do it for the extra income, the ability to actively help others, as well as improving local air quality and the environment, is a huge incentive for many.’

By Alison