Start-up Weev announces £20 million plan to build 1,500 electric vehicle charging points

Weev's heavy-hitting management team (L-R): Thomas O’Hagan, co-founder and chief commercial officer; Graeme Thompson, chief finance officer; and Philip Rainey, chief executive. Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye

A BELFAST-based start-up has announced its plans to invest £20 million in 1,500 new electric vehicle charging points across Northern Ireland.

Weev said it will install the public charge points in at least 350 locations by the end of 2024, including six major ultra-rapid charging hub sites capable of fully charging vehicles in under 20 minutes.

The firm has been jointly set up by Thomas O'Hagan, best known for his IT and telecoms company B4B Group, and Dominic Kearns, the current chief executive of Fibrus, which is currently rolling out Stormont's £197m Project Stratum broadband scheme.

Their company Datainvest also owns B4B.

The start-up said it will make its new charge points available in convenient and strategic locations such as car parks. Weev said it will also offer electric vehicle (EV) managed fleet solutions and leasing.

The announcement follows the formation of the EV task force by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon last year to address the lack of commercial operators in the space.

The group met for the first time in December 2021.

Thomas O'Hagan, who has taken on the role of chief commercial officer, said his new management team already boasts a wealth of experience of successful renewable infrastructure projects and major commercial businesses.

It includes Philip Rainey, the former boss of wind turbine company Simple Power, who has taken on the role of chief executive.

The ex-Irish rugby international stepped down as chief executive of the Heron Bros-owned firm in 2018 following its acquisition by London-based investment fund Foresight.

The former managing director of Schrader Electronics, Graeme Thompson, who spent 21-years with Co Antrrim-based car parts manufacturer, has been named chief finance officer.

Weev's board will be chaired by former Titanic Quarter boss and CBI NI chair David Gavaghan, who spent six years as head of the Strategic Investment Board Limited, advising Stormont ministers on infrastructure programmes across the north.

Brian Loughran, who is well known in funding and finance circles, joins the firm as director.

“We're delighted to have pulled together such a strong team of experienced people to help us deliver our plan of rolling out an EV charging network for EV drivers in Northern Ireland that is fit for purpose, maintained, and supported locally,” said Mr O'Hagan.

“With the current situation around fuel prices, consumers are now thinking seriously about the switch to an EV, but they need to make that switch knowing that their charging requirements will be met should they need it on any given journey.

“Our roll out has just commenced and we plan to have the first users on our network by mid-2022. In total by the end of 2024, we expect to have completed with the installation of a network of 1,500 charging points operational in strategic locations across Northern Ireland.”

The announcement has been welcomed by Mark McCall from the Electric Vehicle Association Northern Ireland (EVANI).

“We have been lobbying to create an environment that was investible for commercial operators to bring new public charging infrastructure to Northern Ireland," he said.

"We are delighted that Weev has stepped forward to help make this happen.

“EV drivers in Northern Ireland have been crying out for action and we are really looking forward to seeing the progress the company makes with its planned roll out.”

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