Kim Royds is the EV Director for Net Zero Ventures at British Gas which is part of Centrica. Originally from Dublin, she now lives in London and moved into the electric vehicle (EV) and sustainability space after working for several years in travel at easyJet.
British Gas is one of the UK’s leading energy suppliers which puts them in a unique position to help a vast number of people on their personal journeys to becoming more sustainable.
Net Zero Ventures, a dedicated business unit, is on a mission to support customers with this journey to net zero by helping them become more energy efficient whether that is through heating and insulating their homes, installing EV chargers, or providing the energy tariffs to power electric vehicles. Many might not know but British Gas offers EV charger installation and a range of products to help zero emissions drivers.
Centrica, the British Gas owner, is aiming to become net zero by 2045 and the company has also committed to electrifying its 12,000-strong operational fleet by 2025. We caught up with Kim to find out more about what is happening at British Gas and her personal journey in the electric vehicle space.
EDs: Can you tell us a little about your history and how you ended up in the emobility space?
I am originally from Dublin and have worked at British Gas Services for 18 months. Prior to working here, I worked at easyJet. This has been a very different stage in my career going from travel into energy, sustainability and then into electric vehicle charging. It’s such an exciting industry to be in and every day is a challenge.
I get to work with some fantastic people, teams and partners. We are always looking at the latest charging technology and how it’s evolving, the regulations and how best to improve the safety and security of the EV chargers we install. I feel privileged to be in this role and to be helping drive this forward, not only for British Gas but the industry more broadly.
EDs: What does your current role at British Gas entail?
British Gas has launched a new business unit whose sole mission is to support customers with the journey to net zero by helping them become more energy efficient. I lead the electric vehicle charging part of the business.
Our mission is to help increasing numbers of customers save increasing amounts of carbon and cost. We have a great set of products across electric vehicle charging, smart energy management, solar, insulation and heat pumps. I believe we’ve got a massive opportunity to help customers across the nation prepare for a net zero future.
EDs: Can you tell us about the EV side of this?
The area that I’m responsible for is the installation of Hive EV chargers in UK consumers’ homes. I see our EV charging proposition as one entry point into a wider smart home proposition for customers.
We have one of the largest networks of EV charger installers in the country. Customers can have a video home survey with our teams who will assess their homes ahead of the Hive EV install happening. Once that is complete our expert engineers will arrive on the day to do the install and get everything set up safely for customers and answer any questions they might have.
We pride ourselves on constantly evolving the proposition we offer, making sure that we are always working to improve and simplify the experience we offer our customers. Getting an EV charger installed isn’t a straightforward process and contrary to some beliefs it isn’t just a plug on a wall.
Another big part of my role is working with the different partners and suppliers we have. Everyone from car original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to charger manufacturers, leasing companies and online retailers. I feel strongly that we all need to work together to see positive progress in EV. Hence, we work with individuals like yourselves and GreenTV and recently started doing some work with Auto Trader as well.
EDs: Who else have you been working with?
We work with some of the UK’s biggest leasing companies including LeasePlan, Novuna and Arval. We have also been working with original equipment manufacturers including Toyota, Lexus and Vauxhall. These are all important, critical players in both the automotive and energy space.
Beyond EVs, we also work with retailers, new build property developers, banks, local authorities and housing associations
EDs: What is your day-to-day role?
Day-to-day I have full responsibility for the management and growth of the electric vehicle charging business at British Gas Services. One of the myths that we’re always trying to bust is that an EV charger is not just a plug outside your house.
At British Gas, we pride ourselves on the safety of the installations we do. We ensure that all our installations are carried out in the most compliant and safe way whilst protecting customers and their homes.
EDs: How important is smart EV charging?
I think it is really important. Customers want and expect a seamless and easy experience when they are charging their cars. We have invested a lot in making sure that Hive EV charging does just that. Our Hive honeycomb platform and app allows customers to control where and when they charge their EV.
Now, especially with the cost of energy and the cost of living being so high, we continue to be focused on how we can help customers save on their energy bills. Something we are excited and proud of is “SmartCharge”. Our customers can link their charger to their British Gas energy account via their Hive app to enable SmartCharge, an intelligent way to charge their car.
The integration allows customers to sync with Hive SmartCharge time of use tariff for cheaper and greener charging during off-peak hours. In trials that we have done recently, EV SmartCharge customers saved around 20 per cent on their electricity bills with the smart charger whilst also helping to balance demand on the grid.
EDs: How do you see the EV space developing for British gas over the next five years?
It’s developing rapidly. We currently have over 1.5 million Hive smart thermostat customers, and hopefully, they’ll become EV adopters and Hive EV charging customers in time as well. We are by no means the biggest player in this space but would like to be and we will be putting a lot of focus this year into building our brand.
We are also investing massively into our net zero workforce for the future. We have a big recruitment campaign out now for EV installers and electrical and heat pump engineers. It is great to be part of something that is driving real change in the UK.
EDs: Currently, what do you personally see as the biggest barriers when it comes to the transition to EVs?
For some, there’s the obvious range anxiety that continues to come up time and time again. People are also concerned about the price of electric cars and the running costs, especially with the rising energy prices. This is all before you get to the complicated conversation about where and when you will charge your car.
Also, and spoken about less often, there are safety concerns, especially from a female perspective, in some dark and secluded areas where public chargers may be located. We have to do more to help, educate and support consumers to make the EV transition.
EDs: What EV do you drive and why?
I’ve lived in London for 11 years now so I never needed a car because I’ve always used public transport. Since I started working at British Gas, I have needed to use a car a lot more to visit our different sites and to get out and about seeing our partners.
As a consequence, I am excited that I have my first electric vehicle arriving soon. It’s a Volvo C40 electric SUV. My husband and I have been driving a Volvo V60 hybrid up until this point. With the new electric car, I will need to become a public charging aficionado because we live in a terraced house with no driveway for home charging. I am looking forward to figuring that out.