Challenging the incumbent fuel card providers; Paua EV charge card insights 

Guest Editor: Niall Riddell, CEO & Co-Founder, Paua

The electric vehicle transition is well underway. There are corners of the business vehicle ecosystem with greater than 50% adoption (think managers in company choice cars) as well as niche providers who deliver 100% electric vehicles. But for many the challenges of charging remain all to real.

At Paua we focus on services for businesses who want to charge, pay for the charge or reimburse the charge. Our public aggregated network is the largest in the country and our home charging reimbursement solution comes to all in 2024. And therefore we live and breathe the business electric vehicle transition. 

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Paua is building the future of the fuel card and taking on incumbent liquid fuel card providers such as Shell, BP and AllStar. Our ground up, in house, digital solutions simplify driver experience and manage payments and reimbursements for business. For us it is really crucial that innovators open up the challenges that incumbent parties do not currently solve for. We dive into a couple of insights from our experience below to explain why we believe innovators need to challenge the incumbents. 

The laws of physics are pretty clear and to date it simply takes longer to get the energy into our vehicles than with petrol or diesel. We simply don’t have high enough power transfer to enable the short re-fuelling times of combustion vehicles. 

And this introduces a challenge for businesses; the time taken to charge can lead to operational implications. 

When we speak to businesses one of the first questions we are often asked is “how many rapid chargers do you have?” Now we have over 73% of all the UK’s rapid chargers on our solution and that’s great to win customers in the first instance and many businesses come to us for this. Combine this with digital routing in our app and filters for charging hubs and you can see already that a business driver has all the tools they need to find, charge and pay at nationwide rapid chargers. 

However, the more interesting and strategic question quickly becomes apparent after the initial sign up; “what other charging opportunities can you provide me with?” And the reason for this is abundantly clear when you consider that time spent on a rapid charger is lost operational time and for some businesses this comes with a significant penalty. 

The AFP has identified that the lack of kerbside recharging for company vehicles is a “major obstacle to electrification” (Paul Hollick, AFP chair). This comes down to the fact that many commercial vehicle drivers do not have off-street parking. 

So suddenly a fleet that was all about rapid chargers now wants more kerbside recharging. Paua has worked with Co Charger to trial this “alternative base charging” with positive results from users. Similarly charging behaviours observed on street side partners such as, Believe, and others shows that drivers develop habits. Once they find a location that works for them they repeat that behaviour. 

Paua EV charge card and mobile app is now accepted on the Gridserve electric vehicle charging network. Electric fuel card for businesses.

So having a lot of rapids is good, but having a higher number of on street charging partners is also key to the transition. Through 2024 Paua will be focusing on ensuring we have a rich partnership of street side charging partners, explore further alternative base solutions, whilst also continuing to extend our charge point coverage. 

But it’s not just about network coverage. Having an extensive network reduces time to find chargers, improves places drivers can charge and through aggregating receipts we ensure a simple way for businesses to pay one central VAT bill and claim back the 20% VAT of their charging costs. 

Because of the digital interface with the charge points it is possible to draw out insights around charging behaviour. 

One area that surprised us was the implications of overstay fee’s. Many of the fleet drivers that are recruited to drive an EV are doing so for the first time. Therefore, they may be unfamiliar with overstay penalties. These penalties exist because EV charging remains a scarce resource so nudging drivers on from a charge session with a penalty works well for a B2C driver. As soon as you do this to a business driver then it is key that the fleet manager is aware of this cost as often business drivers are not. 

Many liquid fuel card providers cannot separate out these costs. Paua’s digital integration ensures that we can separate out the cost potentially saving businesses tens of thousands of pounds. In one recent case study we reduced a fleets overstay bill from 19% of their monthly fee’s down to just 2% through implementing a leader board on our dashboard so that fleet managers could identify the repeat offenders. 

We regard the management of overstay penalties as a key feature of any decent business EV charge card so that businesses can minimise the costs of charging and change driver behaviours. 

Under a UK Government initiative Paua is being funded to explore fraud. With the support of Innovate UK a number of new capabilities are being delivered inside the Paua platform to further stamp out fraud from EV charge points and alert businesses when suspicious charging sessions happen. This further reduces the costs of EV charging. 

Align this to cost centres, the ability to assign a card to a driver or a vehicle, and live data on charging sessions and suddenly the difference between a once a month liquid fuel card bill and a fully digitised EV charging solution becomes apparent. 

And to truly minimise charging costs, then home charging has to be part of the equation where drivers have a home driveway. Working with a leading UK business Paua has built a solution to enable a full cost reimbursement solution that is charger, tariff and vehicle agnostic. 

Home charging brings two immediate benefits to businesses as they electrify. Firstly, the cheapest energy tariffs can be found at home with prices below 10p/kWh for the tariff (assuming the drivers have already installed and maintain a home charger). And secondly the time savings of being able to charge overnight are significant; a few seconds to plug and unplug whilst something else more meaningful is done whilst the vehicle charges. Expect to see more about Paua’s work in this area in 2024. 

We hope that this little dive into the world of commercial EV charging has provided some insights for you and explained why we fundamentally believe that the incumbent liquid fuel card providers need challenged. 

In 2024 Paua will bring new networks onboard increasing kerb side charging opportunities, explore and deliver more “alternative base charging” solutions, onboard more customers to our innovative home charge reimbursement solution (Paua Reimburse), deliver further insights from the UK’s largest data base of EV charge point performance as well as insights for fleets on how their charging is performing.

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