Dundee is at the forefront of the electric vehicle and smart charging revolution. Dundee City Council has been instrumental in driving forward the ambitious plans for the city, and so has its partner company, one that has a surprising connection to crystals…
Did you know that SWARCO is a company owned by the Swarovski family, of crystal fame?
Austrian entrepreneur, Manfred Swarovski, founded the SWARCO business in 1969. The SWARCO Group became an international corporation specialising in the provision of traffic management solutions across the globe. Today its portfolio includes work in the following sectors: urban, motorway, parking, public transport, and of course, electric vehicle charging.
SWARCO, which has headquarters in Austria, employs more than 5,000 staff across Europe and North America, with presence in the Middle East, Far East, South America and Asia Pacific.
In 1989, SWARCO arrived in the UK where today more than 500 members of staff are working in traffic management, parking, and electric vehicle charging sectors. To date, it has deployed major EV charging infrastructure projects across Scotland and now works with all 32 local authorities.
Justin Meyer, Managing Director of SWARCO Smart Charging, said: “Our electric vehicle charging business is very proud to be part of the SWARCO Group, one that is family-owned with a strong customer centric focus and collaborative culture.”
Why is SWARCO in Dundee?
SWARCO’s journey in Scotland began in Dundee. The firm took over as the service provider of Scotland’s charging network (ChargePlace Scotland) in July 2021 – in what was the “first large-scale network migration” in the world’s electric vehicle landscape.
Today, the network includes more than 300 charge point owners and nine different
manufacturers. SWARCO inherited a network that required a lot of attention to bring it to the expected service levels required by drivers and hosts. However, since then, behind the scenes a lot of hard work and investment has been ploughed into the project as SWARCO strives to turn this network around to make it top performing and one that stakeholders can be proud of.
Justin Meyer added: “Taking over the ChargePlace Scotland (CPS) network has certainly been our biggest challenge in the EV sector to date but we must remember that this is the first large-scale network migration we have seen worldwide in the EV charging sector to date.
“We invested a lot of our time planning and had an effective mobilization period which took place in the months leading up to the official migration date.
“An important part of the migration process was working closely and cooperatively with Transport Scotland, the driver community and charge point owners.
“The team is very excited about operating the CPS network.”
Dundee is now the home of Scotland’s charging network operation after SWARCO arrived at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP). Following the closure of the Michelin manufacturing facility, SWARCO saw the site as an opportunity to support the economic impact, as well as support the city’s ambitious plans to convert 20% of all vehicles to electric by 2027.
Dundee is the central electric cars hub in the UK
Dundee is home to the highest concentration of electric vehicles (EVs) of any city in the UK.
If you are an electric vehicle driver and you encounter a problem at one of the city’s 39 rapid chargers and 82 fast charging posts, then you are invited to call a helpline number – that helpline connects you directly to the SWARCO HQ in Dundee at the MSIP.
If there is an issue with the charging station, SWARCO’s responsibility is to raise the ticket for the service provider to repair or investigate the issue.
Often drivers assume it is SWARCO’s responsibility to fix them, but because the firm manages the network, it does not carry out repairs as it does not own nor manufacture the charging points. Across Scotland, SWARCO’s network includes 2,644 charging stations, with over 300 different charge point owners and up to 38,000 electric vehicle drivers.
- takes calls coming into the call centre and deals with email enquiries supporting drivers that require help
- provides and manages the app, website and social media communications
- raises fault tickets on the nine equipment suppliers
- monitors and reports on the performance of the equipment suppliers
- collects monies from drivers on networks that are charging for energy and reimburse the ChargePlace Scotland owners
Justin Meyer, Managing Director of Smart Charging at SWARCO, revealed: “Significant gains have been made already to improve the driver experience, so we are heading in the right direction.
“We are the only supplier to have invested in people. All of our staff are now driving 100% electric cars, so we are also reducing our own carbon footprint.”
What’s SWARCO’s future plan for Dundee?
With 18 staff already employed at the MSIP, and 33 in Scotland in total, SWARCO will boost the number of employees at the site in the near future.
By the end of 2023, up to 80 staff will be based at the MSIP as SWARCO has plans to expand its workforce year-on-year.
Justin added: “Investing in our people, developing additional employment opportunities, taking part in local community engagement initiatives and growing our business in Scotland are key strategic objectives for our business.
“Now that we have better visibility of the [ChargePlace Scotland] network, we realise that we have a lot of work to do to bring the network up to a high quality performing network but I am confident that with the team we have at MSIP, we will absolutely achieve our objectives.”
SWARCO will continue to partner with Dundee City Council, which now has over 100 EVs – the largest of any local authority – as it works towards its aim of 20% of all vehicles in Dundee being electric in the next six years.
2010: SWARCO launches its electric vehicle business in the UK with strategic focus on Scotland. At the time there are around 1,000 electric cars being driven in the UK – fast forward 11 years and this figure is 38,000 electric vehicles on Scotland’s roads alone! The first electric vehicle and charger arrive at Dundee City Council
2012: First rapid charger deployed in Scotland at Crichton Street, Dundee
2015: First multi-rapid charging facility for fleet in Scotland deployed at 203020 Taxi Hub, Dundee – 5 x 50kW rapid chargers
2016: OLEV names Dundee Scotland’s only Go Ultra Low City, kicking off a two-year EV infrastructure project. That same year, the 100th publicly available rapid charger deployed by SWARCO on the CPS network at Broxden Park & Ride Charging Hub, Perth & Kinross Council
2018: Dundee’s Princes Street Hub, one of the countries most advanced EV charging hubs, officially opens
2019: Queen Street opens as one of the UK’s first multi-model charging hubs with EV chargers, E-bikes, solar, a cycle path and train links
2020: UK’s first fully electric intercity coach service, Ember, is launched between Dundee and Edinburgh. That same year, Greenmarket MSCP, Dundee completed – 20 x 7kW AC posts, solar PV and battery storage
2021: Olympia and Gellatly Street multi-storey car park EV hubs open to the public and the first of Dundee’s popup EV charge points is installed at the V&A museum; SWARCO moves to the MSIP and increases team to 33 staff in Scotland. SWARCO operates the ChargePlace Scotland network on behalf of Scottish Government
2022: Dundee City Council aims for all its cars, as well as small and medium vans, to be electric by the end of 2022
2023: SWARCO will increase its workforce in Dundee to 80 members of staff
2027: One in five vehicles on the streets of Dundee will be electric
To find out more about smart charging in Dundee and how you can join the city’s green revolution, visit the Drive Dundee Electric website.