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In the energy sector, we hear a lot of discussion about “the customer”. On the one hand this is great to hear; a sign that an industry that hasn’t traditionally been customer centric is now gradually becoming more so. But it’s also a horrible generalisation – one that we have also been guilty of.
Of course, there is no such thing as the customer, especially when it comes to electric vehicles. There are myriad different customer ‘types’, differing in a multitude of ways, from hard characteristics such as their driving habits or whether they have off road parking, to soft characteristics such as attitudes, values and preferences.
I attended the IQPC E-Mobility Charging in Europe event in Berlin last week. It brought together a great mix of people from across the automotive, utility, charging network and oil company sectors. Here are my three takeaways from the event.
1. There’s a lack of focus on customers.
Timing of external events can go for or against you. After my last blog highlighted the ongoing battle for owning EV charging and energy management in the home, Nissan’s launch of a solar offering in the UK was perfectly timed as I sat down to write about how automotive companies are edging into what some utilities will consider to be their own territory.
Some see Nissan’s work with V2G, storage and second life batteries as primarily learning and positioning exercises, helping them better understand these topics and link themselves to renewable energy for the benefit of their core business: selling cars. But the launch of their solar offering means that it’s becoming harder and harder to have a high level of confidence in this view.
At the most simplistic level an answer is “more demand for electricity? Hooray!”
Peel back the layers of the onion (in this case a big juicy onion) a little more, and you might have some more detailed answers.
The UK Government has fired the gun for the ‘new energy’ race, with a clear indication that it is putting flexibility closer to the heart of Britain’s electricity system. Starting guns have also been fired in a few other European countries with some races likely to start in the (near) future.
In my last blog I talked about the five factors that are starting to drive disruption in heating markets, which we’ll be unpicking at our European Heat Summit in early June. Now I’m going to focus in on how these five factors will drive changes in the traditional route to market of manufacturer -> wholesaler -> installer -> customer.
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