Evtronic is a player in electric mobility. More specifically, we manufacture high- and very high- power charging infrastructure and other solutions for network connectivity and storage optimization.
We primarily deal with CPOs (load point operators) who manage the infrastructure and are who in turn work with electric car users. This is how we started working with EV Box. We bring additional features to what you do at ENGIE, whether with your subsidiaries Ineo and Cofely in France or abroad, with regard to installing and maintaining infrastructure.
How would you explain your business to someone who knows nothing about it?
There are currently several segments in the electric vehicle charging market.
The first segment involves slow charging (at home) which requires charging vehicles at night to give them a range of 150 km. The second segment is accelerated charging, which allows vehicles to reach this level of range in 4 hours of charging. We are positioned on the fast and even ultra-fast charging market, which can give vehicles up to 300 km range in 10 minutes. In other words, we are already well beyond what Tesla is doing, since the stations we’ve installed for the European Ultra-e project involve charging power that is approximately 3 times higher than what Tesla offers.
Ultrafast charging technology already exists. But are there cars that can use it? Currently, no. The first cars that will be able to use this technology will start arriving at the end of the year with the first Audi and BMW models that include ultrafast charging.
Our first ultrafast charging station is located near Frankfurt in Germany. It is already being used by drivers who can charge to the power levels handled by Tesla, but teams from Porsche are also beginning to test their Mission E vehicles that are still in trial phase.
The size of batteries in cars is increasing very significantly. Two to three years ago batteries were at 20kwh and fast charge ones were 50 kw, which allowed the car to charge in 20 minutes. The next generations of batteries will be up to 5 times more powerful, attaining up to 100kWh, and they will have to be able to charge faster to reach standards close combustion engines, specifically a range of 500 km while recharging in 15 minutes.
Since the infrastructure has to be in place before the cars can hit the road, we began installing ultrafast charging networks at the end of 2017. The pace of installation will increase until this autumn so that it will be ready when the cars come out.
What do you expect the future of electric vehicles to be?
The world is changing very quickly and the market will be increasingly segmented by uses and types of vehicles, so therefore also by types of infrastructure. The electric vehicle market will certainly be more segmented than the combustion engine vehicle one, where differentiation was basically based on user comfort features or the size of the vehicle.
Historically vehicle range for EVs was very low, so there were only two real segments. One is the urban user. Infrastructure has been set up in recent years for these users but it hasn’t necessarily been sufficient at the metropolitan level.
The second segment, which is perhaps the most realistic one, covers people who travel 60 to 80 km a day to work. They can charge their vehicles at home and enjoy the full financial benefits of filling up their “tank” for €2! Electric cars are a really good deal in this situation.
Then Tesla arrived with cars with a 400-500 km range, which really saw the market take off and was accelerated by the "dieselgate" scandal and increasing awareness of the dangers of urban pollution.
These three nearly concomitant factors upset all the forecasts about how the market was going to evolve.
Everything has accelerated. At the end of the year, the first electric vehicles will come out at a price level similar to combustion engine vehicles and whose performance and driving quality far exceed those of thermal cars and a range that covers 90% of uses, that is to say around 300-400 km.
Charging a vehicle that fast requires having a lot of energy available very quickly, correct? Is that why you need storage?
Yes. For fast charging at 50 kw, we supplement the energy taken from the grid in some stations with energy stored in our equipment.
As soon as much of the infrastructure installed will have to supply up to 6 additional satellite stations that deliver 350 kw each (2 megawatts), so obviously the network will not be able to deliver this kind of power everywhere and all the time. That's why we’re developing storage solutions to facilitate integrating our equipment into the network.
How will you be showing people how this works at Vivatech? Are you going to bring in a charging station?
We will come with a satellite station, or a user unit, the visible part that comes into contact with the car and the user. It is a good basis for teaching people about how to use it and what it is.
What do you expect to get from participating in Viva Technology at the ENGIE Lab?
We want to take advantage of the event to meet other stakeholders who could either become prescribers or customers.
We also want to take advantage of Saturday's "general public" day to take the pulse of the average user, to understand how much they know about electric charging, to understand their appetite for electric cars, and to teach people about it.
We don’t sell cars, but if a lot of people buy electric cars they’re going to need a lot of infrastructure, which is good for us.
Tell me about your story with ENGIE
What we do is a perfect complement to ENGIE’s business. We are infrastructure manufacturers and are positioned on the European market, but we’re also targeting the US market. The infrastructure we manufacture is technological and needs to be well installed and well maintained.
ENGIE and its subsidiaries such as Ineo and Cofely are certified partners for the facilities we’ve already sold. This is already the case in France with Ineo, and we are starting to develop it in Morocco, Dubai and Latin America.
Powering Electric Mobility
And for you the future will be...?
The future will be electric green.
Developing the electric vehicle market without thinking about the energy that will feed it is incoherent. The example of Germany, where the majority of electricity is produced from coal, leaves us doubtful. This is why we fully share ENGIE's strategy of positioning itself in a major way on both electric mobility and renewable energies.
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