Nissan Leaf charging
Nissan Leaf chargingEnlarge Photo
Wireless Communications Needed
This week, we obtained an email from a Hotel in Farnham, Surrey, where a recently installed Polar Network/Chargemaster was not operating.
On inquiring why the newly installed point had remained inoperative since its installation, the hotel was told that a lack of cellular coverage meant that the expensive charging station was rendered useless.
“The need for the signal is that we can monitor and control the usage of the post,” a technician from Chargemaster-approved charge point installers SSE wrote. “My suggestion is that we remove the ‘intelligent’ terminal and replace it with a ‘dumb’ one."
Is due diligence being undertaken as part of charging station installations? Apparently not.
Pay As You Go “Not An Option Yet”
During our conversation with Mr. Martell, we passed on feedback from electric car owners who have clearly said they would prefer to pay for charging on an ad-hoc basis, using a credit card reader attached to the charging station.
This would eliminate a monthly service fee, and allow those who rarely use charging stations outside of their home to use the network.
“When cellphones first came out, you had to have a contract,” Martell answered. “You couldn’t do pay-as-you go. Our network is like early cellphones. Besides, no-one I know of offers credit-card pay-as-you go services.
When we pointed out that U.S. based ChargePoint offered such a service using contactless credit-cards and a toll-free number printed on the front of the charging station, he remained unconvinced.
“Who are they?” he queried. “I’ve never heard of them.” He then added “ I think you need to get your facts right.”
Not Just Charging Stations
Interestingly, Mr. Martell is also chief executive of the Electric Car Corporation, a U.K.-based firm which converts the European-specification Citroen C1 into an all-electric car - the ECC C1 Ev’ie.
Polar Network Charging StationsEnlarge Photo
Questionable Business Model?
We’re not business professionals, but our understanding of a successful business is one that can sell a product a customer needs at a price they will pay.
For Polar, the latter seems unimportant, with Martell unfazed by suggestions that Polar is antagonizing the very people it needs in order to survive as a business.
Polar and Chargemaster claim support from all of the major electric automakers, as well as support from he U.K. Government. Talking to industry insiders, we’re not so convinced -- although we have yet to find anyone willing to publicly go on the record to air those opinions.
Since our telephone conversation with Mr. Martell, we have officially offered Chargemaster PLC and Polar Networks the chance to offer an official statement in response to some of our questions. At the time of writing, we have received no such statement.