Delivering Manchester’s green transport revolution
Founded in 2020, Iduna’s applying a pioneering approach to grow Greater Manchester’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Working closely with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and now with public and private clients, Iduna delivers an operational, affordable and integrated charging network.
“Our mission is to provide simple, effortless and seamless vehicle charging experiences for all, irrespective of area or affluence. Ensuring the choice of switching to electric is available to everyone,” explains Asif Ghafoor, CEO and Co-Founder of Iduna.
The company’s community-led approach means it has used crowd-funding platforms that enable local people to invest and have a say in the infrastructure that affects their lives. Today, 10,000 community members now share insights on their EV charging habits. Insights that are combined with cutting edge data analytics to build and operate EV charging infrastructure in a smarter, highly optimised way.
“Alongside getting residents and businesses to participate in shaping the infrastructure vision, we’re building next-generation charging stations that have a high social and environmental value,” says Asif. “We’re effectively creating green oases, populated with trees, native plants and family-friendly seating areas, in an urban setting.”
“Transport is a huge emitter of carbon into our environment and the infrastructure needed to stimulate EV adoption needs to be put in place incredibly fast. It takes a big joint public private sector effort to initiate a highly visible and accessible public charging network that supports the transition to net zero – and all our expertise is directed at helping to catalyse that drive,” he continues.
So, when TfGM first approached the Manchester-based business to modernise and expand its public network of EV charging points across the city, getting the right insurance in place was a must have for securing this significant contract.
From vision to reality
“The base contract with TfGM contained clear definitions of all the insurances we needed to arrange. Without this, our joint vision for a strategy that would enable the journey to net-zero wouldn’t get off the starting blocks,” explains Asif. “With the clock ticking, we needed to get the appropriate business cover in place – and fast.”
This proved more challenging than even Asif could have anticipated. With the UK in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic, having timely conversations with insurance firms was just the tip of the iceberg. The unique, innovative nature of the company’s business and its private/public partnership model proved a further stumbling block.
“I had endless conversations with insurers trying to explain our operational model, what we do, why we’re different, the cutting-edge technologies we work with and the types of operational risk we face,” says Asif.
It quickly became clear that this market wasn’t on the radar of most insurers. As a result, Asif faced an uphill battle trying to get the appropriate cover the business would need to operate sustainably into the future.
“One company sent me 50 forms to complete, many of which were irrelevant or inappropriate for our needs. I knew that without the right insurance, we’d be unable to enter into a contract with TfGM, so it was a light bulb moment when I finally talked to Marsh Commercial,” continues Asif.
Based at Marsh Commercial’s Worcester office, our Renewable Energy specialist advisers who quickly stepped in to help Iduna navigate its insurance conundrum.
“While other providers were scratching their heads about how to insure a unique business model such as ours, Marsh Commercial simply said ‘let me go away and have a think about it’ and then came back with a pragmatic and viable solution.”
The insurance framework created by the Marsh Commercial team enabled Iduna to take over the management and development of TfGM’s existing Be.EV network of 132 fast and rapid chargers, membership and brand, and undertake a phased expansion of the charging network together with the delivery of enhanced customer experiences.
“We’ve just undergone our first renewal with Marsh Commercial and yet again, their collaborative approach has helped us to rethink how we evolve how we operate. The rollout of new assets aside, they contributed new ideas on how to reduce our premiums together with suggestions that demonstrate just how committed they are to seeing our business thrive and grow,” states Asif.
Towards new horizons
Today, Be.EV is the largest public EV charging network in Greater Manchester and is expanding at pace. In 2022, sites for a further 1,000 chargers will be secured across the North of England, with an additional 5,000 chargers and 66 charging hubs planned for the next three years at sites in Merseyside, Cumbria, West Yorkshire, Derbyshire and beyond.
Recently, the firm’s work for TfGM saw it beating projects from around the world to win a prestigious Transport Project of the Year award, with judges highlighting the project’s role in developing a partnership and finance model for public EV charging that will provide a template for future projects around the globe.
“As we evolve our business, we’re encountering new technologies and opportunities that will shape our future operational models. For example, it’s becoming increasingly clear to us that consumption, storage and energy generation infrastructures need to sit alongside one another. Forward thinking insurance brokers like Marsh Commercial will play a key role in helping us build into these new markets – and show the world how infrastructure can be done differently,” concludes Asif.
See us in action by watching the video below and find out more about Iduna.