EV Leaders: Flavian Alexandru, CEO, Hypervolt

Flavian is responsible for the success of Hypervolt, a leading name in the UK’s EV charging hardware and software sectors. Since its inception in 2021, Hypervolt has been pushing for affordable, practical, and user-friendly emobility solutions, with the aim of making EV ownership as easy as possible.

Hypervolt, with Flavian at the helm, has made a name for itself in the sector in its short years of activity, having secured incredible partnerships with energy innovators such as OVO. So, how has Flavian guided his company to success?

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I caught up with Flavian to discuss the emobility sector in the UK, the state of the charging market, and what can be done to push the country towards an equitable EV transition.

Do you drive an EV?

I do, I’ve been an EV driver for seven years now, so maybe the initial wave but I’ve had the pleasure of owning a Tesla since about 2017 now. I’ve been an EV driver ever since.

So, how did you enter the emobility space?

For me, it was the time point for some much longer-term dreams and ambitions of bringing contributions to the industry. 

I started from a very young age, reading a lot about energy independence and the large evolutions required to sustain population growth towards the end of the century. So not just specifically referring to emobility, but maybe across the sectors, tackling anything from climate change to freshwater supply. 

For me, I think the biggest thing about emobility, or EV charging in particular, is not even the retail hardware business, but it’s the long-term consequences of having an elastic grid and the enormous opportunity to streamline and make efficient and bring up to the 22nd century, tech that’s now maybe 100 years old in some cases. Although it’s evolved, it’s certainly not evolved at the same rate as mainstream consumer tech. I feel like the great work of Robert Noyce, the inventor of the microchip, has not fully permeated or touched some of these older markets that do electricity distribution and power distribution. It’s going to be an immense enabler for renewable energy sources.

Hypervolt is primarily focussed on the domestic charging market, is that fair to say?

Most of what we do is oddly invisible to end customers. So although we’re an all-in-one solution and we like to think we give you a great product, you’re right, right now the market offering is geared towards residential customers and we specifically target niches within that. What we call the ‘Eco Warriors’, so the more holistic green energy ecosystem buyer that is not going to stop at an EV charger. They might have solar panels and home batteries.

We also target the more astute EV buyer. What we’re seeing there is a lot of customers are going through an education phase, the market itself and a lot of jurisdictions are going through that same education phase where they think “hey, what’s this is brick on the wall? Why does it matter? It’s not that’s special, buy the cheapest one.”

In reality, they end up thinking “Actually, I’m really reliant on this. Not only to get me to work or to get me to where I’m going but also to get me maybe cheap energy tariffs.”  There are all these benefits that emobility is bringing across the market. That’s what we do at Hypervolt now. Our longer-term ambition and vision revolves around some of the core software that we’re building. We’re first and foremost to software company. It’s going to have tremendous benefits that we hope will replicate across to customers and maybe more than one sector.

We take a very almost Apple view to the market in that we do like to own every part of the customer experience so we can make sure it’s very refined for you, but that being said, we like to think that as years go by and we’re able to argument our solidify the tech platform we offer, we’ve got clear plans to enter other verticals.

That leads quite well into the next question – how do you see the EV charging market changing between now and 2035 when the ban comes into effect in the UK?

I think it’s going to go through really dramatic growth because I think EVs as a whole are just becoming a point of conversation in the UK and it’s very exciting to see all the positive momentum and movement. But, just in percentage terms and taking a very objective, cold-hearted, data-driven view, do people really internalise EVs? Has knowledge about charging permeated mass markets? 

I would definitely say the answer is no. A lot of players in the segment, including ourselves, are in a very incipient phase of building a highly solidified long-term competitive advantage. So it’s a reasonably small market compared to its ultimate size. It’s probably now just a few percent of what it will look like in 2035. So we’re very excited to see the volume ramp up. We’re very excited to see the ensuing grid sophistication that comes from it. We’re very excited to see these become a much more meaningful part of the overall offering. 

We’re approaching 1 million EVs in the UK, and we have a double-digit percentage of all British drivers on the Hypervolt platform, which is a very exciting result for our company that’s quite new to the market. We launched officially in March 2021. So we’ve just celebrated two and a half years. We’re still quite a small baby in the grand scheme of things, but my view is that we’re beginning to see the consolidation phase emerge. A lot of people I talk to say “Hey there’s all these charging companies and all these things”, and I say “Well, I don’t share that view.” 

I think when you look closely at it, you have very specific narrow market opportunities and increasingly better-defined customer segments that you address with specific products. A lot of the competitive advantages that you see at play today in the market, I would say are not sufficient to give anyone that is in the leadership position in any of those segments today the long-term edge. So everyone will have to do a lot of work, ourselves included first and foremost, to build much more well-rounded market offerings as the market continues to educate and evolve. We’re still far from the efficiencies or sophistication of an LG TV or washing machine. So just in like trying to parity match and take a cold view on how far are we from being a mainstream, very well-established, well-threaded industry, and the answer is pretty far. So it’s exciting to see what happens on all fronts over the next decade.

Given the delay in the ban of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035, has that changed Hypervolt’s mission or trajectory at all?

I don’t really think there’s been a delay. I think the responsible people have changed, right? 

This obligation or responsibility of going green used to be placed on the customers. I think what the government’s done is put it on the EV manufacturers. So you will be aware of the ZEV mandate that came to pass in parliament, whereby as car manufacturers, they have to achieve at least 22% EV sales rate from 2024, going to 80% by 2030. So I don’t take the view that there’s been any delay and in fact if nothing else, there’s quite a lot of urge put on companies to convince people to buy EVs for the right reasons, to justify the total cost of ownership, to explain to them the value of the proposition, and I think that will do a lot to improve the quality of market offering. So it’s really exciting to see this move forward and it’s exciting to see what it will bring to the market. I think if nothing else our plans have accelerated.

What do you see is the essential next steps to encourage widespread EV adoption in the UK?

I think the biggest disconnect between now and a mainstream adoption has largely remained price. I think we’re very much beginning a phase at which EVs are going to become affordable for the mass market, and I think price and segmentation are the two things that are missing. The lack of maturity in the market offering of EVs is also quite prevalent. So, for example, if you want to buy a seven-seater to take two or three kids to school, you have any number of choices in the wider internal combustion engine market. But, when you look at EVs, you see that the offer gets narrower and narrower. 

The government’s doing fantastic work through salary sacrifice schemes and offering ways to make those things affordable to as many people as possible, even in the short term. But, I think the reality is it will probably take a couple more years, maybe two or three, for the range of offers to improve and for the quality of networks to improve. This is what I’m seeing, even on a personal level, if you don’t drive a Tesla it’s significantly less convenient to be an EV owner, unless you have a home charger. 

The CPO industry will have to significantly evolve, and the infrastructure needs to evolve. So most of the work is ahead of us, and I think a lot of what’s been layered today is probably going to be, in some ways, a write-off in the good name of progress, and this is quite natural. It’s not my critical sense speaking, but to sum it up, I think accessibility, availability, price point and then the quality of charging networks are the four verticals that are going to be the biggest organic barriers to a very large market.

When we’re talking about a very large consumer industry, it’s going to come down to fundamentals. We’re not selling a pretty product, it’s consumer tech on a vast scale. There are always going to be people who are happy to spend £5,000 on a washing machine, but for most people, most of the time, an offer is going to need to be mature and at an affordable price point for that to work. 

The last piece I think is going to be education. So a lack of permeation into mass society. So many people know if they’re an Android person or an iPhone person by a certain age, and that’s just an indication of how common and accessible that tech is, so we all feel empowered to make that choice. I think it’s going to take a lot of sustained effort over the next few years from companies like ourselves. Also from car companies that have the power but not the bandwidth. It’s a shared responsibility to make people aware of the real value proposition, the real cost of ownership. 

You could spend £15,000 on batteries and solar panels, but if you think of it from a long-term perspective, if you drive an EV you know you can be 80% grid independent. All these amazing benefits for you personally. I’ve seen a lot of those systems come into play and it’s just amazing to know that we can save someone sometimes in the region of a quarter of a million pounds. Obviously, that’s over a substantial period. It’s like 20-25 years, but on a macro level, the compound effect of that is really exciting. Imagine a world where 50% of the people have that incredible access to a fully renewable existence, and the benefit of even charging that’s passed to grid, I think that’s a really fun picture to look forward to. Not even just from a carbon footprint perspective, to say that we’ve migrated from internal combustion to electric. I think actually, people are going to get a much higher quality experience as the market evolves. 

EVs are much nicer to drive and much safer to drive. Autopilots are coming in left, right, and centre, I think the rate of accidents will reduce. There’s just a huge amount of advancement that is deeply exciting. I wish more people were given the chance to sit in a Tesla or a Kia EV6. All this technology is just incredibly exciting. I had the privilege to see some of these cars up close and personal thanks to my job and thanks to our incredible partners, but it’s amazing. It’s becoming an iPhone. it’s becoming so much more sophisticated than what it was before, at the right price point, people are going to be really delighted. 

Thank you very much to Flavian, and the team at Hypervolt. Check out Hypervolt’s industry-leading home chargers here: https://hypervolt.co.uk/

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