Electra: the little Frenchman who wants to electrify the heart of cities with its ultra-fast terminals

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Young French start-up Electra intends to revolutionize the electric charging sector and make charging as fast as filling up with gas. To do this, it installs ultra-fast terminals directly in the heart of cities.

If many voices are raised against the forced passage of all-electric and in favor of a diversity of energies, like Toyota, the European Commission does not hear it that way at the moment and imposes via the climate plan “Fits 55“0% CO2 emissions from 2035 for new cars. This would mean the end of thermal engines in Europe from 27

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

Today, France has almost 66,960 charging points at 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 parking lots, 31% in shops and 27% on the roads. The 7.4 kW to 22 kW load section in three-phase alternating current (AC) is the majority (56%), while 50 kW and more (≥ 350 kW) in direct current (DC) is only 6%. As for 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 motorway network. According to the latest Avere count, 219 highway rest areas were equipped with a charging station, “60% of all areas in the concession network“. These equipped areas represent 800 charging points, of which “70% provide “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 has decided to invest in the fast terminal niche. Created in early 2021 during the Covid crisis, this French start-up is the work of Aurélien de Meaux, Julien Belliato and Augustin Derville. The idea came to them after experiencing “fleeting pleasure“of one”less noisy and less polluted city“during the first confinement. But not only. According to Aurélien de Meaux, this discovery was also dictated by the fact that”it is urgent today to make an impact on reducing our CO2 emissions“whose”30% (air transport included) of emissions is due to mobility“Hence the need, according to the founders, to accelerate the transition to the electric car.

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Unlike large distributors such as Tesla, Ionity, Fastned, TotalEnergies or Allego, which offer fast and ultra-fast terminals on the highways, Electra has made it its mission to install ultra-fast charging (150 kW to 300 kW) in the heart of cities, so that relative to “recharging your electric car in 2030 almost as fast as filling up with gas today“.

However, studies show that 80% of electric car users currently charge at home or at work. But as Julien Belliato, one of the co-founders of Electra, in charge of operations, explained to us, there is still 20% left 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. This bodes well for Electra, whose business plan provides for more than 1,000 fast stations by 2030, with two openings per week from 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 offering, including the installation and management of charging stations, while paying rent to car park owners or managers. As regards connection to the electricity grid, Electra has entered into a partnership with Enedis.

According to Julien Belliato, the hardest part is finding land, especially in towns and cities. The French start-up thus essentially targets specific locations such as public parking lots, shopping centers and hotels. Once the rare gem is found, a race against time begins. It thus 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. Electra takes the entire project on its own, it is normal that the company reserves the right to reject files whose profitability would not be ensured, explains Julien Belliato.

Thus, at the end of January 2021, after 20 days of work, a first station was created in Aubervilliers (93), outdoors. It is equipped with two fast terminals (150 kW) among 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 the distance but also the road traffic in real time to direct you to the relevant station.

Electra.  HUB CHARGEMAP electric charging 150kW Combo CCS CHAdeMO

© Érick Fontaine / Lesnumériques

This mobile application is ergonomic and readable. It shows all the Electra stations throughout the national territory. Just zoom in on the screen to find the nearest hub. Each has an information sheet that states the charging power (150, 225 or 300 kW), the number of available spaces and whether it is an outdoor car park. Then another level of information provides information about the available or occupied seats as well as the connections offered. In most cases, these are Combo CCS sockets, but CHAdeMO and Type 2 plugs (AC in 22 kW) are also included.

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

Electra.  HUB CHARGEMAP electric charging 150kW Combo CCS CHAdeMO

Terminals made in Italy & China

This is how Julien Belliato defines Electra’s offer as a service of “highest fashion“. Each station should have between 3 to 5 terminals and 8 to 10 charging points, except for the locations of Aubervilliers (Mobility Village) and Beaune (Greet Hotel car park) 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 reality the number of stations depends on discussions with managers or landowners.

Electra.  HUB CHARGEMAP electric charging 150kW Combo CCS CHAdeMO

As for the terminals, easily identifiable by their design and their colors, unfortunately they are not French, which Julien Belliato regrets. They are supplied by two manufacturers. The first is you
Italian Alpitronic, supplier to, among others, BMW, Mercedes, Fastned, BP and the 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, specially dedicated to Europe, has two plugs: a Combo CCS2 (charging power of 60, ​​120, 150, 200 kW) and a CHAdeMO (60 kW) . 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 stations (22, 150 and 300 kW) on behalf of AccordInvest (Formula 1, Ibis, Mercure, Novotel hotels, etc.), 10 stations (150 kW terminals) for the Indigo group (parking basement) and 300 charging points (150 and 300 kW) for Jardiland garden centers.

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

Electra HUB electric charging Leo&Go free-floating shared car Métropole de Lyon

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

© Electra

In June 2022, Electra benefited from a second fundraising of 160 million euros. This is the second largest amount achieved in the energy transition sector after the €300 million won by the other French, NW Storm, installer of charging stations, which have the special character of being connected to batteries for warehouse.

This should propel Electra onto the international stage. In addition, the small French Tom Thumb has just this summer opened a first office in Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission, should it be necessary to recall it. As a result, Electra has set itself new European goals, namely “implement 300 charging points available by the end of 2022, 600 by the end of 2023 and more than 8,000 by 2030“.

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