Designs on a greener future

Finnish firm Ensto is helping to turn plans for sustainable transport into a future

London alone aims to have 100,000 electric vehicles on the road as soon as possible as part of its plan to become the electric vehicle capital of Europe. But even with the government offering grants of up to a quarter of the price of a new electric vehicle, there is one issue that could
scare off purchasers.

Where are they going to charge up their electric vehicles? Stuart Tolley has an answer for that. “You can site a charging station everywhere – car parks, shopping centres, company premises, car rental depots, airports, sports centres, high rise residential units and even outside owners’ homes,” says the UK sales manager of Finnishbased Ensto, which designs and manufactures charging stations for electric vehicles.

The Ensto range includes free-standing poles which are ground-mounted and similar poles that can be wall-mounted. They offer one or two charging outlets and customers can choose from models designed for situations where a fee is charged and others designed to deliver a charge free.

Corporate customers could use the provision of charging facilities for marketing purposes, according to Tolley, who was recently appointed as sales manager for Ensto Building Technology’s UK activities.

A company may choose to invest in providing a free charging service for its employees or customers as a marketing tool. For instance supermarkets can offer free charging facilities in their car parks in order to prove their commitment to the environment,” he says.

“Companies will also offer electric cars to their staff and will need the charging units to service them.”

It’s no wonder that Tolley sees the market as having great potential. Companies already using electric commercial vehicles in their fleets include Amey, Federal Express, Marks & Spencer, Royal Mail and Tesco.

As well as demonstrating their green credentials, companies are attracted by the fact that they can get tax relief on the entire cost of an electric vehicle in the year it is acquired, and electric vehicles are exempt from the London congestion charge. Larger vans and minibuses powered by electricity are automatically compliant with London’s low-emissions zone, providing a saving of up to £200 a day.

Ensto is currently involved in bidding for contracts to supply some UK companies, and through its UK office in Chesterfield is involved in the government’s Plugged-in Places scheme.

Under the scheme, a consortia of businesses and public sector partners are offered matchfunding to support the installation of a critical mass of vehicle recharging infrastructure.

Source London, which is part of the Plugged-in Places scheme, aims to ensure that every Londoner is within a mile of an electric vehicle charge point. Schemes are also underway in Milton Keynes and the North East, with five additional projects across the UK set to come on-stream by 2013.

The initial cost of purchase and installation of a charging unit is around £1,500-£4,500 depending on the model and the numbers required, and purchasers can choose whether to charge a fee for top-ups or to provide the electricity free of charge.

So why would a company choose an Ensto charging station? “One of the major features is the visual appeal,” says Tolley. The charging stations are timelessly stylish and appealing to look at, made from a durable stainless steel construction thanks to which they suit a wide variety of urban surroundings.

“They were designed in co-operation with local authorities and key clients, so that they blend into the environment seemlessly,” says Tolley.

But internal features are also a selling point, he says: “Unlike some charging technologies, Ensto stations contain software which gathers usage data which can be used to charge the user. Companies with a fleet of electric vehicles can easily track drivers’ usage and companies in the parking provision market can turn the charging of the electric vehicles into a competitive business opportunity.”

text: Lyonsdown

About EnstoEnsto on Parking Network

Ensto is a family business and international cleantech company specializing in the development, manufacture and marketing of electrical systems and supplies for the distribution of electrical power as well as electrical applications. We are committed to lasting sustainable development and our goal is to be the worlds leading company in green energy efficiency and distribution. Our products, manufactured in
seven different countries, are environmentally friendly, energy efficient and leave a minimum carbon footprint.

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