Electra: the francesinha that wants to electrify the heart of cities with its ultra-fast terminals

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The young French start-up Electra aims to revolutionize the electric charging sector and make charging as fast as gas supply. To do this, it installs ultra-fast terminals directly in the heart of cities.

If many voices are raised against the forced passage of the all-electric and defend a multiplicity of energies, like Toyota, the European Commission does not hear it that way for now and imposes, via the climate plan “Fit for 55“0% CO2 emissions from 2035 for new cars. That would mean the end of heat engines in the Europe of 27.

But who says electric vehicles, says batteries and therefore charging. A step that has a significant delay in public collection.

Today France has almost 66,960 charging points in 26,515 stations (source Avere) – the French state’s goal was to reach 100,000 charging points by the end of 2021.

These charging points are distributed 37% in car parks, 31% in stores and 27% on the road. The load section of 7.4 kW to 22 kW on three-phase alternating current (AC) is the majority (56%), while that of 50 kW and more (≥ 350 kW) on direct current (DC) is only 6%. . As for the so-called “fast” terminals (150 kW to 350 kW), they represent only 2% of the fleet (1,398 charging points), or even 1% (529 charging points) for charging speeds above 350 kW.

To take advantage of this high charging speed, you must of course have a compatible electric vehicle and use the freeway network. According to Avere’s latest count, 219 motorway rest areas were equipped with a charging station, “that is, 60% of all areas of the concession network“. These equipped areas represent 800 charging points, of which “70% providing “very high power” charging, over 150 kW“.

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hyb electric charging 150kW Combo CCS CHAdeMO Aubervilliers Electra.

First charging station opened in Aubervilliers by Electra.

© Electra

Electra decided to invest in the fast terminals niche. This French start-up, created in early 2021, during the Covid crisis, is the work of Aurélien de Meaux, Julien Belliato and Augustin Derville. The idea came after trying out the “fleeting pleasure“on one”less noisy and less polluted city“during the first confinement. But not only. This discovery was also dictated, according to Aurélien de Meaux, by the fact that”the urgency today is to have an impact on reducing our CO2 emissions” from who “30% (including air transport) of emissions are due to mobility“. Hence the need, according to the founders, to accelerate the transition to the electric car.

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Unlike major distributors such as Tesla, Ionity, Fastned, TotalEnergies or Allego that offer fast and ultra-fast terminals on highways, Electra’s mission is to install ultra-fast charging (150 kW to 300 kW) in the heart of cities for as much as “recharging your electric car in 2030 almost as quickly as filling up with gas today“.

However, studies show that currently 80% of electric vehicle users charge at home or at work. However, as Julien Belliato, one of Electra’s co-founders, responsible for operations, explained to us, 20% remains to be covered. Hence the utility of public collection.

First fundraising of 15 million euros

At the end of June 2021, the French start-up won 15 million euros from Business Angels from the energy, mobility and real estate sectors. That bodes well for Electra, whose business plan calls for more than 1,000 fast stations by 2030, with two openings a week starting in September 2022.

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Mastering the value chain

With around thirty employees, Electra intends to differentiate itself through its approach and a turnkey offer that includes the installation and management of charging stations with payment of rent to car park owners or managers. As for the connection to the electricity grid, Electra entered into a partnership with Enedis.

According to Julien Belliato, the most difficult thing is to find land, especially in towns and large cities. Thus, the French start-up essentially targets specific locations such as public car parks, shopping centers and hotels. Once the rare pearl is found, a race against time begins. Thus, it takes between 4 and 9 months of preparation for each project, followed by 3 to 5 weeks of work.

The total cost of a station is between €300,000 and €600,000. With Electra taking over the entire project on its own, it is normal for the company to reserve the right to refuse files whose profitability would not be assured, explains Julien Belliato.

So, at the end of January 2021, after 20 days of work, a first outdoor station was created in Aubervilliers (93). It is equipped with two quick terminals (150 kW) between the four charging points. In addition to a price per kWh of €0.44, it is also possible to reserve your location from a dedicated mobile application (iOS and Android). This takes into account distance but also real-time road traffic to direct you to the appropriate station.

Electra.  HUB CHARGEMAP electric charging 150kW Combo CCS CHAdeMO

© Érick Fontaine / Lesnumériques

This mobile app is ergonomic and readable. It presents all Electra stations throughout the national territory. Just zoom in on the screen to find the nearest hub. Each one has an information sheet showing the charging power (150, 225 or 300 kW), the number of spaces available and whether it is an outdoor car park. Then, a second level of information provides information about available or occupied seats, as well as the connectors offered. In most cases, Combo CCS sockets are provided, but CHAdeMO and Type 2 sockets (AC at 22 kW) are also provided.

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Note that the payment of the charge is made via the app, with a recharge card from a Chargemap-style operator or – good news – simply with a bank card, all contactless. The installation of the TPE – like traditional gas stations – is planned for 2023. Like what, whenever you want, you can…

Electra.  HUB CHARGEMAP electric charging 150kW Combo CCS CHAdeMO

terminals created in Italy and China

This is how Julien Belliato defines Electra’s offer as a “high fashion“. Each station should have between 3 to 5 terminals and 8 to 10 charging points, except the Aubervilliers (Mobility Village) and Beaune (Hotel Greet Parking) locations which have 2 and 8 terminals respectively. It’s fun It should be noted that the Electra station (225 kW) in Beaune is 1.8 km from the Mercure hotel car park, where 12 Tesla Superchargers (120 kW) are located. In fact, the number of stations depends on discussions with the site’s managers or owners.

Electra.  HUB CHARGEMAP electric charging 150kW Combo CCS CHAdeMO

As for the terminals, easily identifiable by their design and colors, they are unfortunately not French, as Julien Belliato laments. They are provided by two manufacturers. the first is me
The Italian Alpitronic, supplier of BMW, Mercedes, Fastned, BP, among others, and creator of the HYC400 terminal, whose charging power is 400 kW. This will be deployed at the end of the year on the German motorway network. As for the second, it is the Chinese XCharge, whose C6EU charging station, especially dedicated to Europe, has two outlets: a Combo CCS2 (charging power of 60, 120, 150, 200 kW) and a CHAdeMO (60kW). Please note that there are 4 stations in Corsica equipped with these XCharge C6EU terminals.

A future French unicorn?

Since the opening of its first charging station, Electra has continued to collect contracts: 80 charging points on behalf of Weboost, a start-up of the Louvre Hotels Group (Campanile, Kyriad, Première Classe, Golden Tulip, etc.), 362 charging points (22, 150 and 300 kW) on behalf of AccordInvest (Formule 1, Ibis, Mercure, Novotel hotels, etc.), 10 stations (150 kW terminals) for the Indigo group (underground car parks) and 300 charging points charging ( 150 and 300 kW) for Jardiland garden centers.

In addition to these projects, there are two joint ventures: Altea Commerce to equip 19 shopping centers with ultra-fast terminals, and the Chopard group, a car distributor in France (56 charging points).

Electric charging Electra HUB Free floating car sharing Leo&Go Métropole de Lyon

Electra is a partner of Leo&Go, a car-sharing service from Lyon Métropole that offers 300 free-access electric and hybrid vehicles.

© Electra

In June 2022, Electra benefited from a second fundraising of 160 million euros. This is the second largest amount obtained in the energy transition sector after the 300 million euros won by the other Frenchman, NW Storm, who installs charging stations that have the particularity of being coupled to storage batteries.

This should propel Electra on the international stage. In addition, the little Frenchman Tom Thumb has just opened this summer a first office in Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission, if it were necessary to recover it. As a result, Electra set itself new European objectives, namely “deploy 300 available charging points by the end of 2022, 600 by the end of 2023, and over 8,000 by 2030“.

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