There have always been pioneering Scots whose inventions make the world and humanity's existence that bit better – and thankfully their kind still exist today.
Take Dundee-born Niall Riddell. He is CEO of one of the main players in the electric vehicle (EV) industry. Demands for simplicity of charging EVs across multiple networks saw him develop a new one-card system, allowing EV drivers to cross-connect to UK charging networks. His company, Paua, has what Niall calls a 'roaming platform' that provides a much needed single card solution, allowing access and billing across multiple charging systems. And where did he decided to trial his product? Scotland of course.
It began as a pilot programme through Charge Place Scotland (CPS), the organisation that operates Scotland's national EV charging network. CPS is owned by the Scottish Government, and funded in partnership through a public grant from local authorities and other organisations. Its aim is to 'make owning an EV accessible for all Scottish drivers with charge points located across Scotland – from Shetland to the Scottish borders'.
Paua trialled the project in July 2022 on the advent of the Great British EV Rally from John o' Groats to Land's End. It now continues its roll out across the UK. As of November 2022, there were over 20 partners on the Paua network.
Niall and his team have been successful in forming the company into what is now the largest independent EV roaming network, modernising fuel cards for business operators. He said: 'With my Scottish roots, this is where I just had to begin the journey. The partnership with CPS has been a great start for the new Paua platform, enabling private and business EV drivers to access multiple Scottish charging networks from Lerwick to Berwick via a single solution that can work anywhere'.
Fleet drivers and now a range of business users are finding the Paua EV charge card solution provides simplification and, in the case of CPS, the potential to drive increased utilisation across the Scottish network. Six months on, Paua is making further progress and is now recognised as the market leader in fleet/business fuel card provision. The company has now joined the Electric Vehicle Association Scotland as one of the rapidly expanding list of corporate members.
In an interview with Scottish Review
, Niall explained his entrepreneurial journey:
How do you see the future of EV transition leading up to 2030?
Varied. The most important thing to recognise is that those driving electric vehicles today are not the mainstream adopters. We are still below 2% of all vehicles on the road that are battery electric. These drivers are prepared to accept inconveniences that mainstream adopters will not. Future EV drivers will be seeking simplicity in their experience. Having access to a single solution to charge their cars whilst out on the road will be expected by them.
Now that Paua is widely recognised as one of the key players in this fast evolving EV industry, what are the priorities for Paua in the UK?
Paua's priority is to make it easier for business drivers to find, charge and pay on EV charging infrastructure with one card (and one app). Therefore, we need to ensure that all fleets, whether Scottish, English or Welsh are able to access a GB charging infrastructure with the minimum of hassle. Ensuring that businesses can access a single invoice across multiple networks saves these businesses time and money, and improves the driver experience.
Do you have any major contracts/initiatives you can talk about?
Paua's focus is on extending its network. The latest integrations concluded have taken Paua through the 20,000 EV charge point connector level, meaning that Paua is now accepted at around 40% of UK charging locations (over twice the amount of most of its competitors). This remains our focus, to create a universal charging solution for EV drivers in the UK. As the UK's leading roaming EV charge card provider, we seek to make it easier for businesses to operate their electric vehicles, thereby save time and money by utilising public charging.
Recently, you decided to join EVA Scotland as one of its corporate members. Why?
Multiple reasons really. Firstly, you cannot operate a roaming solution that helps EV drivers navigate from one end of the country to the other without getting involved in Scotland. As the only true roaming solution that enables Scottish EV drivers access to England and English drivers access to Scotland, we wanted to mark this with participation in an appropriate body. Secondly, as a business, we are seeking to build relationships with other businesses and organisations that improve our credibility and EVA Scotland achieves this aim. Thirdly, I was born in Dundee, educated in Edinburgh, with family roots in Perthshire. That means that there is still a strong Scottish link in what I do.
Norrie Hunter is
a motoring journalist and is currently advising Electric Vehicle Association Scotland on press and media communications