The electric vehicle (EV) revolution is rapidly gaining momentum, with the number of EVs on the roads expected to skyrocket over the next 15 years. According to a joint report from Eurelectric and Ernst & Young, 130 million EVs will hit Europe’s roads by 2035. This exponential increase in EVs will necessitate a dramatic expansion of the public charging infrastructure (requiring at least 65 million chargers, in aggregate), with the report forecasting a “deficit” of nine million public charging stations.
There are currently only 350,000+ public EV charging stations in Europe, with three countries accounting for 70% of them. However, as the popularity of EVs continues to grow, the need for charging infrastructure across a broader geography is becoming increasingly important because a lack of infrastructure is the top concern for EV adoption.
In the near and medium term, this demand for EVs will spur a wave of innovation. Already, we’re seeing an increase in inventive solutions, encompassing both go-to-market and technological aspects to tackle this issue.
Innovations are required to bridge the public charging “deficit”. One form is Go-To-Market innovations, which make it easier for companies to effectively “sell” their products.
The alternative telco and “altnet” sectors provide valuable insights into the different pricing models and entry strategies employed by EV charging companies. netUK Hull-based broadband provider KCOM targeted underpenetrated UK cities, while Colt addressed new markets by providing low-latency market data and trading infrastructure services. Circling back to the EV charging space, we see Slovakia based Greenway adopting different pricing strategies for family and long journeys, and with French firm Stations-e the entry is via municipalities, forming a business-to-government (B2G) model as the requirements for EV charging points for a state/municipality are more driven by positive social impact rather than just purely financial.
Governments and businesses should also take steps to support the installation of private EV charging infrastructure. Some governments provide subsidies to cover some of the installation costs, and businesses can offer employees access to workplace charging stations. For instance, the UK government’s Workplace Charging Scheme offers up to £350 per socket for eligible companies to install EV charging points. Such financial incentives and support can help overcome installation costs and encourage the adoption of EVs, ultimately promoting sustainable transportation.
Innovative new partnership models have emerged that offer companies an opportunity to use EV charging as a marketing tool, increase customer loyalty and create new revenue streams. Companies can now leverage partnerships to deploy charging infrastructure, lower payback time, and incentivize customers to shop while charging. For instance, supermarkets and shopping malls can build chargers and offer discounts, loyalty points, and other incentives to customers using their charging infrastructure. Zunder has partnered with Nissan to offer a 50% discount on any of their CHAdeMO chargers at their charging stations, while Parking Energy has collaborated with four of Finland’s leading parking operators to provide customers with easy access to their charging stations.
Companies now also offer a “bundled” installation model, selling multiple solutions bundled into a single offering. Gridserve is one such example, providing a comprehensive package that includes the installation of EV charging stations, solar panels, EV leasing, and more. Stations-e is another example, offering a local fast-charging stations network and installing high speed mobile networks + other ancillary services. Another example of bundled offering is charging software where charging software can optimise a wide array of charging improvements e.g. balancing peak grid demand, reducing strain on the electricity network, managing charge times and levels etc – please refer to our EV Charging Software article.
Lastly, the market standardisation of charging protocols and its wider adoption will drive the best possible user experience. A prime example of this is ISO 15118’s Plug & Charge, which eliminates the need for users to use multiple different apps for different networks or credit cards. This standard specifies communication between EVs and charging stations, enabling Plug and Charge functionality. This standardisation will drive go-to-market innovations by providing a healthier set of charging options for consumers that are not siloed to individual brands.
Innovations in charging are driving fundamental shifts in how charging can be done (instead of today’s plug-in-only solutions).
Broad spectrum of functionalities:
EV companies are developing a variety of plug-in charging options for various EV charging needs. For example, Virta offers a comprehensive range of charging services, including standard, fast and ultra-fast charging. This enables a more reliable and efficient charging experience and gives users more flexibility regarding when and where they charge their vehicles. Trojan Energy has developed a flat and flush on-street charging solution, with the charging points staying underground when not used so there is more street space available.
To ensure that their technology can remain up-to-date and capable of meeting the ever-evolving demands of the future, EV charging companies are creating technologically agnostic solutions that enable them to integrate additional value-added services and tools. These solutions are flexible and allow for easy customization of the EV charging setup, giving users the power to tailor their systems to their individual needs. Examples include ChargeNode‘s intelligent queue system, which prioritises those who need charging, and Connected Kerb‘s two-part EV charging solution that offers standard EV charging alongside smart city solutions like air quality management sensors, parking management sensors, and payment options.
Augmenting EV charging solutions:
Charging infrastructure can also combine with energy storage solutions, such as batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, to augment the need for traditional EV charging solutions and provide a more flexible and reliable energy supply. This approach can maximise the efficiency and sustainability of the charging process and ensure that EVs are always charged when needed, as the stored energy can charge the vehicles when renewable energy sources are unavailable.
German start-up Sono Motors has developed an EV that features solar panels on the car’s body, allowing it to generate energy and significantly reduce the need for external charging. Furthermore, Hyundai has developed a hydrogen fuel cell truck that can be used as a mobile charging station for electric vehicles.
Mobile robotic charging:
Mobile robotic EV charging uses a robotic arm to connect the vehicle to the charging station for easy and efficient charging. The robotic arm attaches to a mobile platform and can move around the car, allowing for charging in various locations. This type of charging system can be used in a variety of settings, from public charging stations to private garages.
Charging technology provider EV Safe Charge has developed ‘ZIGGY’. This robot can autonomously drive itself and an energy storage unit to a car, plug in the socket, and authenticate itself without human assistance. This eliminates the need to handle a potentially heavy and dirty cable and the wait time associated with authentication, thus making the experience of charging EVs simpler and more convenient for drivers.
Wireless or induction charging is an innovative technology that provides continuous, dynamic charging of electric vehicles (EVs) while in motion. While this technology is still under development, several pilot projects are underway. The ElectReon Wireless Charging Project in Israel is a first-of-its-kind wireless Electric Road and stationary charging station that charges an e-bus in Tel Aviv. The wireless charging technology enables the e-bus to charge while driving, eliminating the need for frequent charging stops and reducing battery usage.
Global technology company Siemens predicts that the market for wireless EV charging in Europe and North America will reach $2bn (€1.96bn) by 2028 and has already signed an agreement with German-based automotive supplier MAHLE to work on standardising wireless-charging systems for EVs. The potential for this technology to revolutionise the electric vehicle industry is immense, promising to make EV charging more efficient and cost-effective.
Battery swapping for EVs is a technology that allows owners of electric vehicles (EVs) to quickly replace their car’s depleted battery with a fully charged battery. By swapping out a depleted battery for a charged one, drivers can get back on the road quickly, eliminating the need for lengthy charging sessions. The process is similar to refuelling a gasoline or diesel car but much faster. Battery swapping technology is already used in various parts of the world, including China and Israel. As the technology continues to improve, it’s expected to become even more popular with electric vehicle owners worldwide.
The drive to a near-total electrification by 2030 is underway
Investment in public and private charging infrastructure, power grid upgrades and renewable energy production capacity is estimated to be over €240bn by 2030 of which 60% is expected to be installation of new public and private charging points. With a robust cohort of high-quality companies with sound fundable business models, this presents a significant opportunity for investors.
GTM innovations are expected to take place in the short term, with new advancements to be rolled out in the coming few years. Technological innovations such as wireless and robotic charging are set to transform the EV charging landscape in the medium term. The future of electric vehicle (EV) charging is looking bright with exciting innovations on the horizon.
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