Home Opinion Face to Face : Frankie Mellon Gives the Latest on the EV Charging Market

Face to Face : Frankie Mellon Gives the Latest on the EV Charging Market

In this month’s Face to Face we speak to Frankie Mellon, Managing Director of Rolec, to get the latest on the EV charging market.

Can you tell us a bit about how and when Rolec was established?
Established in 1990 by a founder with a passion for innovation and green technology.While it’s true that electric vehicles weren’t prevalent on the roads at that time, Rolec’s origins weren’t rooted in the EV industry. Instead, we carved out our niche in the leisure sector, establishing ourselves as pioneers in manufacturing outdoor electrical equipment, water, and sanitation utilities tailored for caravan and holiday parks.Soon after, we ventured into the Marina industry, encountering a unique set of challenges that spurred our innovation. It was within this sector that we first experienced the demand for smart services. It didn’t take long for our team to engineer connected hardware solutions that gained traction across marinas globally. Today, we maintain our position as a world leader in marina services and utility products.

As we embarked on our journey of evolution, we introduced our latest division, EV charging, in 2007—which even then was early for the EV industry. 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. Since then, our trajectory has been marked by a solid track record of providing innovative EV charging solutions for domestic, commercial, and public settings.

How can wholesalers get involved with the burgeoning EV charging market?
Rolec is firmly established within the wholesale distribution network, distinguishing ourselves as one of the select few manufacturers who have stayed true to this model since the launch of our EV charging range, and we still find great value in this approach. From initial prospects to final transactions, we channel all enquiries through our trusted network of wholesalers.We have been building relationships with a prestigious portfolio of blue-chip customers with a strong national wholesale network for 15 years, which has grown to include over 3,500 distributors and stockists.Now, we’re actively exploring new ways to provide even more value to our distribution partners. Our commitment extends beyond hardware; we provide specialised industry and product training to equip our partners with the insights and skills they need to excel. While our dedicated wholesale support team and key sales advisors stand ready to assist every step of the way. Choosing to work with Rolec means partnering with a team with decades of combined industry knowledge completely at your disposal.

Will the latest generation of affordable home chargers further accelerate EV take-up in the UK?
The standard features integrated into home chargers today, particularly in terms of software solutions and security measures, have significantly eased the minds of potential EV adopters. The convenience of simply pairing their vehicles with their home chargers, coupled with integration options with their energy providers for optimal charging, better rates, and charge scheduling. It appears that we’ve successfully addressed the queries that were commonly raised two to three years ago.

What are some of the built-in features customers are coming to expect from modern EV charging units?
Built-in features vary between domestic and commercial charging requirements. Many of the additional commercial features required often increase the price and potentially outweigh the benefits for a home charger. Typical features for home charging include Wi-Fi connectivity, charge scheduling, solar integration, and a user-friendly app.Incorporate additional specifications for commercial charging solutions, such as the inclusion of multiple communication methods: Wi-Fi, 4G, and Ethernet connectivity.

With the growing demand for compatibility with various back-office systems, it is essential that the charger offers flexibility in configuration to seamlessly integrate with any platform. Our hardware that we sell to wholesalers is designed to adapt to any software, facilitating smooth onboarding onto the customer’s chosen provider.

We’re witnessing a surge in demand for advanced features beyond the standard offerings, particularly for contactless payment solutions, screen integration, and dynamic load balancing and management—which take into consideration the building’s electrical supply and demand, dynamically adjusting the chargepoints as needed to optimise performance and efficiency.

What are the key considerations when selecting an EV charger to use at home or in a commercial setting?
Home charger customers are a lot more price sensitive, emphasising the need for cost-effective solutions that are both space-saving and aesthetically pleasing. Connectivity options, based on what methods are available on site, are also an important consideration.When it comes to commercial charging, several additional considerations come into play:

Logistics: Deciding where the charge point will be installed within the premises.

Mounting Solutions: Determining whether a wall-mounted or floor-mounted solution is best suited to the site’s layout.

Socket Options: Opting for dual or quad socketed units to minimise groundwork and cabling, thus maximising the number of available outlets.

Connectivity Challenges: Addressing connectivity, particularly in underground or communal parking spaces, to ensure reliable operation.

Charging Speeds: Choosing units with varying speeds ranging from 7.4kW up to 240kW to accommodate different needs.

Operational Efficiency: Considering the operational aspects of the site, including vehicle downtime, and charging session turnaround times.

Data Management: Identifying what data needs to be extracted from the management system, such as kW consumption breakdown per driver or per vehicle. Which allows businesses to accurately assess their true operational costs of maintaining an electric fleet.

What are Rolec’s primary objectives for the next 12 months?
As we move into 2024 and beyond, we are dedicated to maintaining our leading position within our niche industries. As a genuine manufacturer and development company, our comprehensive range of products and services stands unparalleled.Our wider goal is to increase the support and resources we offer to contractors. As part of this initiative, we are also expanding our technical services, tripling the size of our technical support department, and implementing weekly product training and refresher courses. As well as encouraging installers and distributors to reach out with feedback to help us improve our services in the future.Our core focus revolves around enhancing the services we offer to our wholesale and electrical contractor networks. This encompasses a spectrum of support, ranging from pre-sales inquiries to comprehensive project assistance, quotations, onboarding, and handover processes. We’re currently on an exciting development journey aimed at seamlessly integrating these elements, and we look forward to sharing the news later on this year.

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