Hiten Sonpal and Michael Lynch

Director, Future Mobility Group, NatWest and Service Performance Manager, Property Services, NatWest


We interviewed Hiten Sonpal and Michael Lynch to get their feedback on Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Hiten is a Director, Future Mobility Group, NatWest and Michael is a Service Performance Manager, Property Services, NatWest.

EV Charging Infrastructure Team: Can you describe your role in EV charging market space?

Michael Lynch & Hiten Sonpal:

NatWest is a Financial Institution supporting millions of personal, small business and corporate customers across the UK&I. We have identified three areas of focus where we can make a substantial impact in addressing challenges that threaten to hold people, families and businesses back. These are enterprise, learning and climate.

Our ambition: to be a leading bank helping to address the climate challenge. To support this, we are working to ensure that our operations are net zero in 2020 and climate positive by 2025. As a signal of our intent NatWest was the first company to commit to all three ‘Climate Group’ Initiatives pledging to:

1. Use only renewable electricity in our direct global operations by 2025 (RE100).

2. Install electric vehicle charging infrastructure in more than 600 spaces across our UK & RoI portfolio by 2030 (EV100). 

Upgrade our job car fleet of around 300 vehicles to electric models by 2025 (EV100).

3. Reduce our energy consumption 40% by 2025 against its 2015 baseline (EP100).

As a bank we are supporting the drive to decarbonize the UK transport sector through the newly created Future Mobility Group. This is a multi-disciplined centre of excellence working across the Bank and emerging mobility eco-systems to enable us to invest in the development of our product and service offering, in addition to enhancing our market and risk insight to maximise the support for the decarbonisation of the UK surface transport. 


EV Charging Infrastructure Team: Can you give us an overview of one of your latest projects?

Michael Lynch & Hiten Sonpal:

Project description: Pilot site for our 600 charger programme: Belfast Donegal Square Office – Provide 10 Chargers for colleagues and visitors to the office.

Parties involved: NatWest Property Services – Engie EV.

Problems faced: The Belfast project tested our ability to deliver against our principle objective to encourage the transition from ICE to EV by ensuring that:

– The solution is simple to access and use. Challenge – All colleagues to manage their charging sessions with minimal effort.

– Users benefit from our low cost energy unit price. Challenge – Selecting a commercial model where we control end user costs.

– Service is fast and reliable. Challenge – Lacking required local energy infrastructure and no SIM signal in basement car park.

Problems solved:

– All users can register staff RFID ID cards as a contactless method of starting and ending a charging session – All staff are able to register and use the service using a card they already carry;

– By opting to purchase charger assets the bank directly control user costs – The bank will vary price in line with energy costs and has the potential to offer customer’s preferential/no costs in the future;

– The pilot capitalized on existing infrastructure works to reduce enabling costs. Engie will manage an independent wired broadband connection – 30/mph charge for all users and Engie retain remote fix capabilities.

Project structure, financial arrangements and ongoing project costs:

– The bank negotiated a contract and associated schedule of rates for capital and ongoing service costs. Infrastructure works are managed by bank property project development partners as principal designer.

– For a fixed price Engie will install the charging unit and provide comprehensive maintenance and all customer service platforms for 5 years

– Infrastructure costs vary significantly by location. We manage costs by ensuring that Engie and Property Projects co-attend the site to conduct a thorough survey to design the solution. 

Input and guarantees put in place to make this project viable: A clear and contractual schedule of rates for all services combined with a risk free upfront site survey.

Solution supplier selection criteria: Key differentiators in the supplier selection criteria were:

– Hardware agnostic – The bank would like to maintain flexibility over future service partnerships and hardware options;

– Future proof – Offer hardware that can connect to alternative sources of energy and vehicle to grid power;

– Transparency –  The supplier is willing and capable of tailoring service to meet our requirements.

Key take-aways from this project: Work with your stakeholders to agree service requirements upfront and design your partnership agreements/solutions around them.


EV Charging Infrastructure Team: What are the key targets in EV charging infrastructure provision for you in 2021?

Michael Lynch & Hiten Sonpal

85 installations – this is in flux due to the impact of the pandemic.


EV Charging Infrastructure Team: What is your advice to your industry peers who are also looking to increase the provision of EV charging infrastructure at their facilities?

Michael Lynch & Hiten Sonpal:

Destination charging is a growing trend that is set to continue. Start with a clear ambition for your business and build the solution with input from an industry partner.


EV Charging Infrastructure Team: Taking your industry experience and projects you worked on into account, what are you going to address at our event on 9 October 2020?

Michael Lynch & Hiten Sonpal:

Focusing on the collaborative process between internal stakeholders and external partners to design and build the right solution and a new offering the Future Mobility Group are currently working on to support UK consumers and businesses to transition from ICE to EV. 

Michael is speaking at our EV Charging Infrastructure, AC, DC, V1G, V2G Stakeholder Focus Day on 9 October and is happy to have further conversations with his industry peers. 

If you would like us to pass your message to Hiten prior to Focus Day please contact Jane Huggins on enquiries@ukwideinvestment.com who will be able to facilitate your communication with him.