Hive from British Gas Partners with Pelion to Connect its EV Charging Network in the UK

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Hive from British Gas uses Pelion multi-network connectivity to connect its residential EV chargers 24×7 enabling full Hive app control and intelligent charging.

Hive has long been an innovator in residential tech, already supporting two million thermostat users in the UK with smart Hive home, heating, and intelligent energy technologies. With a mission to help British homes become cheaper and more energy efficient to run, it is a leader in residential chargers for electric vehicles.
 
Since 2018 it has used Pelion to supply multinetwork managed connectivity services. These are a crucial element in assuring its smart EV charging services to consumers and connecting its devices to energy providers – including, of course, British Gas part of the Centrica organisation with which Pelion has worked for many years.
 
30,000 Pelion SIM cards are already in use in Hive EV chargers around the UK. They are used in Hive’s Alfen Eve Single S-Line charger and in the Hive EO Mini Pro 3 – one of the smallest and neatest chargers on the market.
 
Stacey Daws is Commercial Manager for British Gas Hive. Since 2020 she has worked with the Hive EV team to assure a great EV customer journey as well as managing commercial partnerships and contracts with EV car manufacturers, technology, and leasing providers. She orders and activates Pelion SIMs, directs them into the appropriate manufacturing channel, and manages liaison between Pelion and the Warranty team that fields ongoing customer needs and queries.

Today’s Smart Customers Want Constant Control

Hive offers residents tools to help them manage their homes and energy usage. Hive EV chargers do not simply provide EV car owners the ability to fill up their batteries but use the award-winning Hive app that optimises electricity consumption and leaves drivers confident their car will be charged when they need it.
 
Giving customers full control and confidence in the readiness of their car when needed is key, Stacey explained: “As long as the car is plugged in, customers can use their Hive app to control its charging wherever they happen to be. You can specify when you need a full battery charge to be available – such as at 8 am, ready to leave for work.”
 
British Gas has a free-to-use smart charging mode (FreeCharge/SmartCharge) which actively pays drivers for charging their EV at off-peak times, and works with any British Gas electricity tariff. “Our aim is to bring greener, cheaper charging to driveways across Britain,” Stacey continued. 
 
“We enable customers to automatically charge their vehicle when the grid is quiet – using cheaper, greener energy. The Hive app shows customers how much money they’ve saved and provides the saving as credit on the energy bill. All customers need to do is sync the app with their British Gas tariff, tell us when they need their vehicle charged by, and we’ll do the rest.”
 
At present, Hive also offers a generous full year of free charging to new users. “Our customers love FreeCharge as we give them 12 months of charging absolutely free. It works similarly to SmartCharge, but we will refund 100% of charging costs in the first year – up to 8,000 miles, providing they have a smart meter, a Hive EV charger, and are on a British Gas Electricity tariff.”
 
All the Hive EV services are controlled by the Hive app. Even when Wi-Fi capabilities are added to some Hive EV chargers in due course, the connectivity provided by Pelion will remain a vital back up to ensure customers can charge their cars unfailingly via the Hive app and smart features.

Connectivity Powers Reliability

Resilient EV charger connectivity via the Pelion multinetwork SIM card is critical to delivering reliable, always-on service – as well as enabling energy savings with FreeCharge/SmartCharge using the Hive app.
 
Without the device’s ability to connect via any major network, there could be a risk of dropped connections preventing a customer from accessing the Hive features they can use to save money while charging. Being connected is key to provide data to Hive about the dates/times and schedule mode of charging sessions so that customers can be correctly credited on their bills. Although chargers still store session information locally when offline, and still can charge an EV, they need to be online to pass this information to Hive.

Easy For Everyone At Every Step Of The Process

For the customer, the journey should always be seamless. British Gas works in advance of installation to avoid issues via virtual home checks, electrical load assessments on the property, and liaison with local distribution network operators. At Hive, Stacey takes advantage of a fully automated Pelion process for SIM card ordering. A self-service portal lets her order each batch of SIM cards as needed, for shipment direct to the EV charger manufacturer who can then insert Pelion SIMs in new units before they are distributed.
 
It is important that this process can flex with Hive’s EV charger demands, Stacey stated: “The number of chargers we sell and order from manufacturers fluctuates. Whenever we place a new order for chargers, I work with our team to order the SIM card, sending them direct to the manufacturers. Using the Pelion site is quick and easy, which is exactly what we need.”
 
Stacey values the speed and ease of access to this part of the process: “Once you know how to use the portal it is simple to order new SIM cards, and it is fantastic that is all self-service. It is really easy and only takes minutes. I simply log on, place an order, and know the SIM cards will be dispatched at latest by the next day with tracking e-mailed over.
 
The Pelion system also ensures that Stacey has the information she needs, automatically generating a list of the SIM serial numbers so that she can activate them. 
 
I can activate more than 1000 SIMs at a time if I need to, and because activation is instant it helps us manage the process efficiently. If I had to spend half a day managing and activating SIMs then this would be time taken away from my everyday role and essential things like continuous improvement.”
 
Each Pelion SIM is pre-supplied with a small 100KB data allowance to tide it over pre-installation. When engineers arrive at a residential property to install a Hive EV charger, they need take no action to connect the charger to the network. The SIM card is already inside the device, and the moment it is installed it will connect to the best network signal available and activate with its full data allowance.
 
The installation engineers benefit from this well-oiled process. “This neat system means that the British Gas engineers who install our chargers don’t have to mess around – they simply install the charger, pair to the Hive app and are ready to go,” Stacey explained.

Going For Growth

The home EV charging market is set for explosive growth according to analysts, with more than 1.1 million electric cards now on UK roads as well as more than 600,000 plug-in hybrids. Growth is further fuelled by new housing stock development. Since mid-2022, all new build properties with associated parking in the UK must now be supplied with EV chargers.
 
Hive is in a strong position to help accelerate the electrification of transport, both directly and via partners. It has ambitious targets for 2024 residential sales, and it also fulfils EV chargers sold by its many partners.
 
As Hive responds to growing demand, Stacey knows she can rely on the established relationship. “My account manager really knows his stuff – and whenever we need more technical help, he will quickly arrange a call with Pelion’s technical team. If we need more information, he’s fast in sending that over. He’s been a great support, not just to me but also to our customer support agent and engineers.” Pelion has offered free training to the Hive agents and engineers.
 
However, the customer relationship is paramount. If engineers have any issues during the charger installation process, or the Warranty team receives a call from a customer, Stacey is confident of fast support from Pelion: “I stay on top of which SIMs are activated by colour coding my data. If the Warranty team or an engineer contacts me, I can easily search for a charger’s specific SIM to check they are activated via a SIM serial number. If data is not pulling through for any reason, I can easily raise a ticket via the Pelion website portal for the Pelion tech team to investigate. They are quick and efficient in responding, which is really important so we can resolve the issue for our customers quickly and efficiently.”
 
In conclusion, she reflected: “Pelion and the process of SIM ordering and activation are really efficient. The process isn’t over-complicated, and it is backed up by a knowledgeable and supportive team. Above all, Pelion gives us reliable connectivity, which is critical for our Hive EV business to grow. Pelion as a partner adds value to what Hive EV charging can deliver for customers.”
 
Download the Hive Case Study HERE.

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