The market is just waiting for them to fill up with growth. They are charging stations. The French are taking the step towards electricity, having already bought 300,000 cars by 2021, and car manufacturers are transforming their production chains by tens of thousands of billions of euros. The installation of public charging stations must keep pace! However, we are still a long way off. The government had set a target of 100,000 terminals by the end of 2021 and had put 100 million euros on the table. Despite this magnitude, intended to support the cost of installation and connection to the network, only half of the program was implemented.
This year should therefore be the year of acceleration … if the international situation allows it. The war in Ukraine is actually leading to price increases due to the lack of essential materials for the manufacture of electric cars, especially tungsten and nickel. But the price of petrol is also rising … Dozens of players are therefore eyeing the very lucrative market for charging points. An Eldorado that, according to Gianluigi Indino, a partner at EY-Parthenon, would weigh 8 billion euros in eight years, just for the “ex-factory” value of the terminals before installation.
“To blend the French territory, explains the strategy expert, a number of specialists are on the starting line, from manufacturers of terminals to energy suppliers, through service operators in relation to the driver, those who manage maintenance and those who negotiate payment flows.”
Everyone wants to be. Starting with energy mega-corporations like TotalEnergies, Shell or BP, who are forced to negotiate the transition to electricity and want to install chargers at their filling stations: at a speed of half an hour to an hour of waiting time per hour. charging, customers will also go shopping in their stores. Construction giants at the time, including the French Spie or Bouygues, who plan to install terminals in the heart of the cities. And finally terminal suppliers such as the German Siemens or the Dutch FastNed.
But while waiting for an inevitable concentration, small structures are also rushed into this market. They specialize in the installation of terminals in condominiums, their profitability with the owners or democratization of payment.
Recharge without subscribing. Filling at an electrical terminal as with a conventional petrol pump: this is the challenge launched by SGA Mobility. The start-up, based in Rouen, has since 2013 offered facilities equipped with a bank terminal, which is accessible by a simple credit card. Neither subscription, mobile application nor badge, as required by the majority of market participants.
“The terminal manager receives the entire charge from the customer, who knows how much he is paying for his full,” comments Christophe Gaillard, founder of SGA Mobility, almost the only company in France to offer this option.
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It develops software, distributes its terminals and pays for itself through the sale of its machines (at a rate of around 5,000 euros per unit) and maintenance. A spin-off from SGA Industries, an electronics engineering company, SGA Mobility sees itself as a complement to the energy giants with its 500 terminals installed in cities, especially in western France, and is aimed specifically at drivers who do not just need one. “full” per week.
The Community solution. In the highly competitive world of terminals, the young shot from Ile-de-France has created an original place for itself. “We invented a set to place on your own charging station that makes it accessible to other owners of electric cars,” explains Bertrand Lepage, general manager of Wattpark. The driver connects to the platform and books a meeting time. On site, he has access to the terminal via Bluetooth, he recharges, and his bank account is debited in favor of
by the owner.
This “Airbnb-style” terminal is accessible to individuals, professionals, and communities at a cost of 500 to 800 euros. The company targets areas outside metropolitan areas “with a service approach rather than charging speed”. It also envisages partnerships with hotels and restaurants as well as car manufacturers that could integrate its solution into their loyalty programs. She finally has the project of building a factory in Maine-et-Loire that could produce 5,000 of her sets a year.
Ad-supported top-ups. What if your next charge was free? This is the promise of Volta Charging, which intends to attract drivers by having their “full” funded by advertisers, national or local. This American expert in electric mobility, who arrived in France last December, wants to copy this economic model, which has already been developed on 2,000 charging gates in the United States in five years. The terminals are equipped with digital screens on which advertising rolls.
The idea is to place them in areas with heavy traffic, such as supermarket parking lots. Volta Charging favors top-up charging, time to shop. “The need for fast charging is not so important,” says Vincent Grena, European head of the company. “The most important thing is to be where people are.” The American also intends to make sparks in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, by being rewarded with advertising as well as the installation and maintenance of charging stations.
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