How did a company that started off installing electrical distribution systems to the leisure and marine industry become one of the most well-known electric vehicle charging companies in the UK? Angela Pisanu chats to Rolec’s Kieron Alsop to find out
When and why did you form Rolec?
My background is electrical and I worked for a small company which specialised in the design and installation of electrical distribution infrastructures on caravan and residential parks.
After many years of learning my trade and rising through the ranks, I had many innovative ideas for the leisure industry that were not being taken on board by my employer. Therefore, in 1990, I decided to form my own company called Rolec to give me the platform to introduce a number of new innovative product concepts, which proved well received and contributed to our initial success and growth.
We expanded as a company and continued to provide the leisure industry with innovative products as well as introducing a nationwide electrical installation, maintenance and emergency call out service.
After your initial success in the leisure industry where did Rolec go from there?
Rolec quickly achieved its position as the leading specialist in the design, manufacture and installation of electrical distribution systems to the leisure industry.
From there we explored new opportunities utilising the skills and expertise we had developed in the leisure industry, expanding to the marina industry and specialising in electrical, water and emergency services.
Again, through innovation, we achieved almost immediate success in the UK marina market – quickly becoming the dominant force, which gave us the confidence to further expand into the international marina industry.
To cut a long story short, we are now considered the world’s leading specialist in the design and installation of services on marinas, managing distributors and representatives in over 40 countries around the world.
Rolec products are on thousands of marinas worldwide, including many iconic projects such as the 1,000 berth marina on Palm Island, Dubai. On this particular project we designed and installed a bespoke RFID Smartcard management system, enabling boat owners to pay directly by card for their electricity and water services.
We continued to innovate in the marina industry, introducing the world’s first computer controlled electricity and water services management system called BerthMaster. We recently enhanced BerthMaster to BerthMaster Online, enabling berth holders to pay for their electricity, water and sanitation pump‑out services via their mobile phone.
Is it at this point you moved into the EV charging industry?
Not quite. Following our electrical manufacturing and installation successes in the UK leisure and global marina industries,
we further developed as a company – introducing a new division called Power Solutions.
Power Solutions focuses on the manufacture and supply of a wide range of panels, pedestals, cubes and street posts for both the permanent and temporary electrical installation industries.
Are we now at the point you enter the EV charging industry? What triggered this decision?
Being a fan of cars in general, and having travelled the world following Formula 1 and participating in numerous intercontinental Gumball rallies and similar global road trips, I quickly became aware of the trend towards electric vehicles.
At this point we noticed that there were one or two early developers of EV charging points. We took the time to research the charging points on the market and came to the conclusion that this was an industry that Rolec could add value and experience to.
We immediately invested time and resources in developing an initial charging pedestal and wall unit – including the Rolec WallPod, which has now established itself as one of the country’s favourite EV charging units.
As the EV industry matured we in turn continued to further invest in our products. We now offer what is believed to be the largest and most comprehensive range of EV charging equipment in Europe.
Our range has been designed to offer a charging solution to suit every budget and location, and includes EV charging pedestals, wall units and EV charging street lights.
What difference do you feel Rolec has made to the industry?
There are two key areas where I feel Rolec has made a major impact.
The first was to deliver high quality EV charging equipment at cost effective prices, which introduced a sense of competition within the market, enabling a wider and faster deployment of charging points across the UK.
The second was to introduce EV Charge Online, our back office management system which completely revolutionises the way that EV drivers pay-to-use and access EV charging networks.
We could not quite understand why an EV driver was expected to pay annual membership fees, monthly subscription fees and connection fees before their vehicle had even received a single kW of electricity.
If a driver of a combustion engine vehicle can go to a petrol station and pay only for the fuel they put in their vehicle, why should an EV driver be expected to pay these additional fees on top of the electricity they are consuming?
With the EV Charge Online system the driver simply pays for the kWs consumed, at the price advertised, at the EV charging point without enduring any associated membership, subscription or connection fees.
The EV driver simply pulls up to the charging point and, using their mobile phone, logs on to the charging app and chooses their method of payment from Visa, MasterCard, American Express or PayPal.
Are there any other interesting EV charging developments on the horizon at Rolec?
We have quite a number of exciting projects and product developments in the pipeline. One of these is our recently advertised partnership with Ecotricity.
This Rolec/Ecotricity partnership offers the “Fully Charged Bundle”, enabling any EV driver whether private, company or fleet operator to sign up. Once signed up, they receive a competitive 100 per cent green energy home tariff, a Rolec EV charge point fully installed for £99, and access to the nationwide Ecotricity Electric Highway charging network at half the usual price.