15 Years of EVolution
19 October 2023 at 09:43:03
2023 is a momentous year for us here at Rolec EV, as we celebrate 15 years in the electric vehicle industry. When we were introduced to the EV industry in 2007, little did we know we’d be plunged head-first into a world of invention, green tech and government mandates.
But let’s not get too carried away… Before we delve into our tale of innovation, let’s take a moment to re-introduce you to the unit that started it all…
When we launched the WallPod in 2007, there were only two other companies in the UK dedicated to EV charging, which might be hard to believe now. But with nearly two decades of experience in the outdoor electrical industry, manufacturing service points for leisure sites and marinas across the globe, we felt ready to take on the challenge.
So, in the heyday of Britney Spears, when Y2K fashion was still new, the WallPod was introduced to the UK market. Available in some interesting colourways (very 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). And the WallPod was more than just a sign of the times. It was revolutionary. Available in a combination socketed and tethered unit, that pre-dated the two-EV household and wouldn’t find its place in the market until very recently.
It may seem obvious to some, but it is interesting now to see how new developments in our technology reflect so much on the industry at the time. The EV market in 2007 was not the thriving industry that it is today. Most EV cars were slow, had very low range and were seen through the same lens as hovercars; more a niche interest for the kooky professions or tech-types of the time than a realistic solution to growing climate concerns.
Nevertheless, we had faith that this EV thing would last…
Let’s Make it Official! (2008-2015)
Before long, we were hooked, and by 2008 it was official. We’d dipped our toes into the world of electric vehicle charging and come out with a passion for the industry that just wouldn’t quit. EV was now the newest division of Rolec.
Just like the EV industry, our company continued to expand and just two years later it was time for us to move from our Wisbech office to a custom-built and spacious premises in the heart of rural Lincolnshire. What could be better for a green tech company than to be surrounded by the nature that inspires what we do. Even if we get stuck behind the odd tractor (…or rolling cabbage) on the way to work in the morning.
A year later, the UK Government started to make big steps towards encouraging EV uptake. Making public the OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles) grant, effectively reducing the cost of EV ownership by reducing the upfront price of EV and PHEV vehicles and introducing lower road tax (VED) and company car tax. These price incentives made zero emission transport more attractive to fleets especially, and started the widespread adoption of the fully electric fleet.
Thankfully, the move gave us the opportunity to facilitate a larger quantity of orders and really cement our presence in the industry as leaders in EV charge point design and manufacturing. Which came in very handy in the next couple of years, as both the BasicCharge and AutoCharge were announced by 2013. Our family of one had tripled in size in what felt like a matter of moments, and it really became evident that this EV thing was here to stay.
And as our building developed, so did the connections that we had made throughout the industry. One of our strongest being that between us and the wonderful electrical contractors that install our charge points worldwide. So, in 2014, we decided to do something to show them how integral they are to our business. We built a custom training academy. Now we welcome contractors to our premises regularly to keep them up to date with our latest product range.
Around this time, the Domestic Chargepoint Grant (which was introduced the previous year) was replaced with the EV Homecharge Scheme. Aimed at increasing domestic EV uptake, it offered a grant of up to £900, covering 75% of the total cost of installation.
Also that year, we welcomed SecuriCharge. Our second wall-mounted unit, and the fourth member of the team. Made to meet the needs of our commercial clients with spaces less suited to pedestals, like underground or multi-story car parks. The SecuriCharge was designed with, you guessed it, security in mind – designed for more secure environments. An electric vehicle charging solution that became a big hit with businesses and car park operators.
Powering People to the Ends of the Earth (2016-2019)
And we just continued to reach milestone after milestone. Hitting a total of 50,000 EV charge point sales in 2016 and being appointed charge point partners for Battersea Power Station’s £9 billion development project. Supplying them with SecuriCharge charge points to support their 500 strong EV charging network, and building a connection with a location that has so much history – past, present, and future.
Being in the industry now for 15 years, we really love to see where EV takes us. From exploring some of the most modern and ground-breaking developments in the UK to supplying charge points in picturesque and idyllic countryside locations; the world of EV charging has taught us so much about the way we interact with the world around us, and we remain committed to powering people to the ends of the Earth.
In September of 2016, the UK Government introduced the Workplace Charging Scheme, displaying a drastic shift in attitudes towards EVs. Electric vehicles were being taken seriously as a replacement for ICE vehicles and their potential as company car and fleet vehicles was being realised.
Not even a full year later, we were chosen to take part in a major charge point project for UPS’ flagship depot in London. Energising their fleet with just under 100 electric vehicle charge points. And creating a first-of-its-kind software solution that included load balancing capabilities and full visibility of vehicle telematics. Aiding the fleet operator by providing live information on each vehicles’ battery state.
Seeing fleets of this size beginning to take up sustainable transport, for us, demonstrated electricity was becoming a realistic fuel source for the logistics industry and LCEVs (Light Commercial Electric Vehicles) were starting to find their place.
The landscape of the workplace was changing, and with it so was customer expectations regarding EV charging. The EV market had started to flourish, and people started to expect more from their chargers. With that in mind, 2016 marked the launch of the Quantum pedestal. Inspired by the Quantum marina and leisure pedestals - our industry experience really came in handy with this one – it was created as a response to these changes in consumer demand.
Capable of charging vehicles simultaneously and imposing a modern and elegant look, the Quantum became a landmark product, especially for businesses, as they looked for charging solutions for their now rapidly growing fleet of company EVs and LCEVs.
Sophisticated and resilient, the Quantum has become a crowd favourite. So, it will be no surprise that by 2018, we were feeling the need for expansion once again. Our newest purpose-built manufacturing facility aided our influx of orders and allowed us to continue to manufacture the same high-quality products we’d become known for. Increasing our output and aiding us in completing notable projects for companies such as Anglian Water.
And there was still room to grow, as in 2018 we released an impressive range of DC rapid and ultrafast EV chargers.
2019 was also a big year for our EV division, installing over 150,000 EV charge points, and developing relationships with some really important names in the industry. One of our most successful campaigns was with MG, who worked with us on their dealership and domestic charge point installation. We provided them with bespoke branded pedestal and wall-mounted units for their dealerships nationwide, including their head-office.
Always going that one step further, we also made it even easier for MG to manage the home-charging installations of their customers. Delivering a tailored home installation management portal giving them accurate information from the beginning of their customer’s journey to installation and completion. Supporting them every step of the way.
If you live in York, our charge points might’ve been helping you get from point A to point B since 2019. Since this is when we partnered with the UK’s largest electric bus depot- First York. Supplying them with 70+ AC and DC charging points, allowing them to charge their fleet of 72 buses simultaneously. We loved that First York took the opportunity to champion EV technology in their fleet. Which is what really drew us to this project. After all, EV infrastructure shouldn’t just be for people with EVs, it should be for everyone.
Innovation Nation (2020-2023)
In the pursuit of industry development, we acquired our own native-back-office software in 2020. Now we could confidently say, we knew our chargers inside and out. And by this point there were now 200,000 Rolec EV charge points installed worldwide.
March signalled the arrival of the COVID-19 virus to the UK and the start of a years long lockdown not just Britain but the entire world. Everything we knew got tipped on its head and we were left trying to navigate a completely alien world. Not in the least in our professional lives. We stood in solidarity with our incredible healthcare workers around the world and their valiant efforts on the frontlines of the pandemic.
But for the rest of us, this time at home gave a lot of us some valuable time to think. About our future yes, but also the future of the planet. In November we were reminded that as one door closes, another opens, and never was this more clear than in the UK Government’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. Along with ambitious plans to upgrade the nations green energy and offshore wind projects, point 4 introduced the phase out of fossil-fuel dependent cars (and vans) by 2035. Which meant we would officially have to say ‘goodbye’ to our fuel-guzzling automobiles and fully embrace the evolution of the car.
In 2021, Rolec is acquired by Sdiptech. Marking a significant landmark in our history, our welcoming into the folds of the Sdiptech family has propelled us into a new landscape, opening doors to even more opportunities for growth and innovation. And it seems we didn’t have to wait long at all, as the same year we carried out EV charging roll-outs for Saint Gobain and King & Moffat (supporting their partnership with Lidl) and partnered with NG Bailey to deliver EV charging infrastructure nationwide.
All of this didn’t go unnoticed and we were awarded Delta’s ‘Significant Growth Award’ for our impressive sales of DC units.
2022 opened on a spirit of innovation, seeking out a dedicated site for our research and development team to lay down roots. A decision that would quickly prove fruitful as by the summer the UK Government would make a surprise announcement that would shake the EV industry.
Introduced in response to concerns around grid capacity, the Smart Chargepoint Regulations welcomed a host of changes for electric car chargers. Like scheduled charging and randomised delays. Thankfully, the work we had been carrying out behind the scenes for our partners gave us a little bit of head start and the R&D team quickly sunk their teeth into the challenge of designing an EV Controller and Smart Communications Module.
Taking advantage of this momentum, we thought it was about time to give some love back to our founding product and give the Wallpod a bit of a re-vamp. Brightening it up with a brand-new LED halo status indicator and making it even more grid friendly by fitting all units with automatic dynamic load balancing. Built-in TruePEN PME fault detection made it even easier to make Wallpod a part of your home, since no earth rod was needed to install.
But even still, the Wallpod seemed lonely. So, we designed it a friend, expanding our home-charging range with a sleek and modern new unit. And the first ever dual-home charger was born. This, of course, was the Zura. Complete with entirely customisable fascia and capable of charging two vehicles at once (we love a multi-tasker), the Zura reflected the expanding EV market - the multi-car household was starting to become a multi-EV home.
Before long it was 2023. In true Rolec fashion, we started the year as we meant to go on. We partnered with Sinexcel and launched our newest rapid DC charger, the UltraCharge160, announced our partnership with Monta, pledging 20,000 chargepoints to be installed across the UK and that was just in the first 40 days.
But what’s better than one product launch? Two product launches of course. In March, we kicked off the show season with a bang, presenting the QUBEV Smart to the world for the first time. The QUBEV is our most cost effective, smart unit and has been an immediate hit with housing developers and homeowners alike.
Not even 8 weeks later, Rolec was named official charging partner for Farnborough International Conference and Exhibition Centre. Keeping their 26,000 visitors fully charged with bespoke branded pedestals and carrying out a successful trial of Monta’s smart queue feature.
In the months that have followed we have continued to nurture these relationships with our partners, and even welcomed a few more into the fold.
And that’s just the beginning…