What frustrates customers the most?
From our research of drivers who regularly use the rapid charging network, we’ve found that there are some real charging ‘bug bears’. The first is availability and the reliability of chargers. Even when customers have been able to start a charge, interrupted sessions or slow speeds are equally frustrating for drivers.
At Shell, we have an intense focus on the uptime of our chargers, and we are learning and tracking the root cause of any downtime. That means we can offer the best and most reliable charging experience to our customers. We are obsessed with this!
Drivers have also told us that ‘ease of use’ is a priority for them. Chargers that are easy to use and have a simple, transparent pricing structure are most favoured.
Thirdly, we found that drivers who are new to electric often struggle to know where to charge. Petrol and diesel car owners don’t need an app to find a forecourt, but right now, that’s still the best way to locate a rapid charger. Obviously, that will change in time as sites become more commonplace, but until then, our own Shell Recharge app shows live status of our newer points along with pricing information and directions. Drivers can also start charging sessions from the app.
How do you decide the number and speed of chargers at a new site?
We match the speed of charge to the dwell time of the customer. The dwell time is the time a driver will be occupying a charger and varies according to the car, the charge speed and the amount of energy the customer wants. 350kW chargers are great but there are very few cars that can benefit from this speed currently, so it makes sense to have units that are in line with car charging technology. Even with a car that can accept very high charge rates, the difference in dwell time between a 350kW charger and a 175kW charger is relatively small. Right now we think it’s better to have more units available for all drivers rather than a smaller number of ultra high power ones that only a handful of cars can use to their full potential.
What have you learned from your flagship Fulham site where you converted an old petrol station into an electric-only hub?
The first thing we’ve learned is that if we build great electric car hubs, then customers will come! We’ve had a positive response from customers who see a Fulham-style hub as the way forward for charging. Yes, we had teething issues in the early days, but this was a completely new concept for us and we’ve learned a lot. It continues to be incredibly popular with drivers and it’s shown us that having a large number of ultra fast 175kW units on one site has allowed us to maximise use. I’m constantly checking feedback from the team at Fulham and on ZapMap and when drivers describe it as ‘a heaven of EV charging’, I know that we’ve done a good job.
We are working hard on accelerating and improving our EV infrastructure and customer offer – we have big plans and look forward to exciting low carbon times ahead!
Shell's flagship hub in Fulham, London, will be a template for a new generation of Shell Recharge charging hubs