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Introduction To The Electric Vehicle And Charging Station Market


The arrival of the electric vehicle does not only change the deal for car manufacturers. The entire energy market is also evolving.

The electric vehicle market is booming. Although its growth has been slower than expected by analysts, with only 1% of new vehicle sales in France in 2015, the forecasts remain optimistic and expect a market representing 35% of sales worldwide. 2040 (see Figure 1).

This trend seems realistic thanks to the support of many governments for this innovation. Indeed, we note in recent years a strong will of the authorities to accelerate the growth of the sector. This includes significant financial contributions (purchase premium, tax credit, etc.). In the Netherlands and Norway, the leaders go even further and propose laws aimed at banning sales of gasoline-type vehicles in 2025.

Despite all these efforts, many reluctances persist within the population. These are, in large part, related to technical aspects and more particularly to the autonomy of the vehicle which is today relatively low (150 km on average). Another important problem concerns the network of charging stations which are not yet developed enough.

New entrants breaking the codes

The emergence of electric vehicles has brought new players to the automotive market with innovative business models.

The most obvious example is the Teslas. This company, created in 2003 by Elon Musk, was one of the pioneers in this sector. By offering high-end 100% electric vehicles, Tesla broke the codes without revolutionizing the vehicle itself. The real breakup is its business strategy. Unlike historical players, Tesla aims to control the entire chain in its verticality: from production to distribution. They produce their vehicles and their charging stations, they sell their products in their concessions and have technical centers for their customers. With the recent acquisition of SolarCity, Tesla also wants to produce its own energy to inject into its network of terminals.

Another example of a new entrant in this market: Gogoro. This Taiwanese start-up also innovates with its removable battery system and Smartscooter. His model is simple: with the purchase of a Smartscooter, the customer also subscribes to a monthly subscription to access the network of battery storage stations available in the city.

One of the commonalities between Tesla and Gogoro is the home sector of their leaders. Indeed, being from the ICT and telecommunications world, they offer a new look at the Smart Mobility sector via high-tech solutions such as dedicated applications. These cover various needs: billing, vehicle condition, etc. In addition to these start-ups, the giants of Tech are also very interested in this market: Google, launching its autonomous and electric car, and Apple, many rumors are part of its growing interest in electric vehicles and connected.

The charging stations, a major challenge

The increase in sales of electric vehicles also implies the emergence of new issues revolving around this topic. This is particularly the case for charging stations. As stated earlier, one of the brakes identified in the development of this mode of transportation is the lack of available terminals for users. Thus, we see for some time in France and elsewhere in the world, the hatching of charging points to meet the energy needs of electric vehicles. Like oil companies that have installed petrol stations to allow drivers to travel longer distances, it will be up to companies offering charging stations to take on this role in the future.

To date, the terminal system is not standardized. Many start-ups are entering this market by offering more or less innovative solutions and installing load points on the roads. Large groups also join this sector, in particular, EDF with its subsidiary Sodetrel. This multitude of players and solutions highlights a major problem: the interoperability of charging points, ie the customer’s ability to recharge their vehicle on all terminal networks.

What future for energy experts?

If the forecasts of the experts are correct and the electric vehicle is to take a significant place in the automotive market, the energy companies will have an opportunity to seize. Not to mention the topics related to “Vehicle to Grid” and compatibility with energy production, Energy stakeholders have every interest in becoming more than energy suppliers.

Indeed, the model of free charging stations will be, very quickly, more economically viable for companies and communities offering this service. We can imagine a near future in the following way: like the banking and telecommunications sector, energy companies could each deploy their networks of charging stations and support this deployment with subscription offers opening access. to these networks. A surcharge may be requested when the customer is led to connect to a terminal which he did not subscribe to the offer. At the same time, the goal would also be to build customer loyalty and win new ones.

Our convictions

The electric vehicle market is undergoing profound change. On the one hand, the economic stake being important, many companies wish to conquer this market in which the role of each one is not yet established. On the other hand, subscription billing systems are emerging, putting an end to free terminals. Finally, the interoperability of the terminals is essential to the development of this sector. The electric vehicle will be an unavoidable means of transport in the near future, particularly in France whose low carbon energy mix reinforces the ecological argument. Although many questions remain today regarding this aspect, the transition process is launched with the support of the public authorities. Other issues, however, remain unresolved, including the adaptability of electricity production and the capacity of the network to support this burden.

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