The densification of the charging station network intensifies competition, a good point of innovation.
Almost two years ago, ie the prehistory in the timescale of electromobility as the sector evolves so rapidly, we questioned the future of services inside charging stations and noticed the poverty of ‘supply’.
Nothing revolutionary, we just asked the operators to just go back to the model of the good old oil service stations to offer similar services so that the electromobile driver doesn’t feel too lost or abandoned in the open field during their recharging breaks. So restrooms and, let’s face it, coffee and food without having to walk two miles through a dystopian zone of activity in search of lost civilization.
The base, what.
Things didn’t necessarily evolve in that direction, but there is an explanation. In fact, with rare exceptions, most charging stations are located in parking lots in commercial areas, hotels or highway service areas. Which largely finds happiness while the beast is full of electrons.
In fact, if charging network operators have begun to “strengthen their offer”, it is not so much on the side of related comfort services, but on the commitment to innovation.
It has to be said that the sector has become particularly competitive, with an offer that has exploded in the last two years, and new charging stations opening – often at high speeds – almost daily.
And when competition arrives and sets itself in battle order, it usually gives way to a fireworks display of innovations. Is this the case in the charging sector? The answer is yes, obviously, even if we are still more into homeopathy than heavy shooting like a bomb mat.
In any case, the positive signs are there, and this is only expected to increase in the coming months and years. The opportunity to take stock – and confirm that what seems innovative in one sector is sometimes – not always, fortunately – just the reproduction of proven recipes inspired by another sector, with the only condition being to be the first to think about it.
Reserve your charging station and Electra Station Access
Start-up Electra works like a… start-up. In agile mode with innovation in its DNA. Thus, after having introduced a new exclusive feature a few months ago, which consists of offering the possibility of directly booking your terminal through the mobile application before arriving to recharge, the young company has recently unveiled a new technological feat, Station Access, which allows you to charge your electric vehicle even when the car park where the terminals are located is closed. A new feature that allows you to control the opening of barriers, gates, doors and gates leading to charging stations. Note that Tesla offers a similar feature, but with a different operation, which consists of displaying the parking code number on the car’s screen when you arrive to charge and it is closed. Less tech, but just as effective.
Fastned solar panel roofs and way stations
If most charging station networks do not offer any shelter, this is not the case with the Dutch company Fastned, which from the beginning has installed excellent covered places whose awning is recognizable from afar. In addition, this roof, in addition to protecting customers from the weather, can accommodate solar panels that can recharge 3 to 5 cars a day. And that’s not all. Fastned is, as far as we know, the only network that offers “crossing” stations whose terminals are installed in the direction of traffic, unlike others where it is necessary to park in queues or in spikes. A deployment option that allows long vehicles, especially those towing a tow bar, to load without blocking the other seats.
Plug & Charge by Ionity and Fastned
Ionity was the first open network (including non-Tesla) to offer automatic vehicle authentication to start charging immediately once connected to the terminal. Fastned followed soon after. To benefit from this service, you must have previously registered your vehicle in the application, then proceeded with a first “manual” charge. For the following, the stations recognize the car and welcome it without it having to declare its identity again. Comfort and time saving.
Stations-and multi-service stations
For e-Stations, a charging station must be much more than a simple set of terminals destined to supply juice. The company’s vision is that a station should fit in and participate in local life, providing related services such as optimal connectivity to 4G and Wi-Fi networks, but also click-and-pick or even car-sharing. Or real hangouts around social activities that can be carried out during the time of a recharge.
Vehicle for Dreev’s Grid
Using the excess energy contained in your electric car battery to redistribute it to the grid is the promising idea of V2G, or Vehicle To Grid. We talk more and more about it, but there are still not an infinity of cars compatible with this protocol (we can mention the Kia EV6 for example), and neither are the stations. It is in this subject that the Dreev company specializes, a niche still little explored, but which probably promises a bright future, even more so in these times of threatened shortages and rising energy prices. A way to “smooth out” demand and distribute it as needed.
Return and advertising at charging stations
An idea that may seem absurd, even irrelevant, but which ultimately is perhaps smarter than it seems. Unique and original, Volta’s solution is based on charging stations equipped with large digital screens that allow the operator to broadcast advertising on them to dampen the installation. What’s the point of broadcasting ads to users who don’t stay in the car while it’s charging? This is precisely because the Volta terminals screen does not target the responsible electro-driver, but the passers-by who are nearby. It is then the location that counts, especially in large car parks.
Terminals on light poles
Little known (and almost non-existent in France), this way of making use of existing urban facilities is beginning to spread to Berlin and London. Ubitricity, a manufacturer of charging solutions for electric vehicles, has won a public tender from the city of Berlin to create at least 200 charging points on streetlights in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf and Marzahn-Hellersdorf districts. Its implementation is part of a federally funded air quality improvement project. A smart way to improve existing infrastructure without creating new roadblocks.
Barriers on the sidewalks
A solution that at first glance seems quite strange, even counter-intuitive, and that seems far from unanimous, if we believe the first reactions. During a conference on electric mobility, the German company Rheinmetall presented its terminal concept, which is integrated directly into the sidewalk guides. The idea here is also to free up the public space as much as possible so as not to disturb other users. But many doubts arise about the usability of this device, as well as its supposedly dangerous reliability due to its exposure to every whim of the public highway.
Nio instant battery change
Some believe it hard as iron, others not for a second. While the debate is expected to settle here, this doesn’t really seem to be an issue in the Middle Kingdom, as many operators already offer solutions for battery change, or instant battery replacement. And this obviously also involves specialized stations, which are no longer intended to recharge your batteries, but to replace them in real time with full ones, in less than 5 minutes, or approximately the time of a full tank of essence. We had the opportunity to test this service in real conditions, and we have to admit that our reporter was delighted with the device. If you’re still skeptical, know that Nio has already opened no less than 800 Power Swap battery change stations in China. A trifle…
Blockchain QoWatt and NFTs
New to the market and still little known, QoWatt is adopting an original model based on Blockchain and NFT to “reward” its users and be able to deliver and maintain 40% of electricity from renewable energy from QoWatt charging stations. . The 5 types of exclusive NFTs offer their holders discounts of up to 32% when charging their electric vehicle. Well, it might seem a little abstruse put like that, but a little tour of their website will let you know a little more.
The electric vehicle charging sector is a world apart, combining high technology (apps, servers, etc.), infrastructure and energy engineering and territory management. Many professions that may seem contradictory and yet coexist within the same company. Innovation must find its way into this cocktail of somewhat disparate businesses, but isn’t it correct to say that creativity is born of constraint?