Over the last 12 months, the automotive industry’s acceleration towards sustainable mobility has increased the need for charging infrastructure. But while manufacturers continue to improve their products in terms of autonomy and charging speed, consumers are struggling to find fixed charging options that can support them. In a recent interview, Luca Fontanelli, Chief Executive Officer of E-GAP, a mobile charging provider for electric mobility, shares some valuable insight into potentially sustainable charging solutions for electric vehicles (EVs), and how electricity companies can support the EV load.
“With mobile charging, it’s easier to increase supply to meet demand by circulating more vans only when needed. This minimizes the risk of investing in or installing technology where it’s not required, allowing businesses to manage their investment costs in a smart way.”
How is E-GAP supporting the acceleration of EVs?
The true satisfaction of the EV owner depends on the experience that begins from the moment they drive their new vehicle off the forecourt. Managing the customer in this post-sale phase is crucial to the car maker’s success. E-GAP, which is operational in Italy, France and Spain, and soon to be available in Germany and the UK, works with manufacturers to support this phase of the customer journey, offering a mobile charging alternative that delivers superior performance. There are several shortcomings in the support of electric mobility that E-GAP can overcome.
1. The ability to meet demand is one of the largest battles for infrastructure companies. Of EV drivers, around 75% who use public charge points must travel to where they’re located, typically outside of residential areas where demand on the grid is lower and therefore power is at its highest. However, E-GAP doesn’t rely on the grid and can offer charging solutions in residential areas where it’s needed most.
2. Due to increased demand on the grid in high-density areas, it’s difficult for a fixed recharge solution to provide more than 50kW of output, meaning it’ll take longer to charge a vehicle. In the center of Paris, for example, there are only five charging points with more than 50kW in an area that inhabits around eight million people. As EV popularity rises, demand for public charging solutions will increase, as will the need for fast charging. E-GAP’s vans have a capacity of up to 130kW per hour thanks to technology developed by our in-house engineering team. It means that we can offer a fast-charging solution in the city, providing drivers with around 150 kilometers of range in as little as 15 minutes.
3. With mobile charging, it’s easier to increase supply to meet demand by circulating more vans when needed. This minimizes the risk of investing in or installing technology where it’s not required, allowing businesses to manage their investment costs in a smart way. Upgrades to charging technology are also easier to achieve with mobile charging. With vehicle technology advancing at a rapid pace, some fixed solutions that are only a few years old now offer unsatisfactory performance in terms of power and capacity. Mobile units allow us to upgrade the technology in line with industry advancements with minimal cost and downtime.
4. The planning, preparation, installation and testing of a fixed point of recharge can take around 12 months. But electric mobility technology is advancing so quickly, these charging points could be outdated before they’re even live. A mobile charging solution can be live in a new city in less than two months.
5. E-GAP’s efficient and connected applications are crucial. They help monitor requests and identify the best interaction with the customer. The use of artificial intelligence will help E-GAP anticipate customers’ needs based on driving patterns and location, meaning we can understand exactly where the demand is and place vans in the right area at the right time.
6. When using fixed charging services, drivers are challenged with finding a working charging point with an empty parking space in front of it. If it’s raining, they’ll get soaked handling the heavy cables. By contrast, drivers using a mobile solution are likely to achieve a 100% success rate when they need to charge, and benefit from a technical E-GAP operator handling the cables for them. EV owners don’t even need to be by the car. They can open their charging flap remotely or leave it open ready to be charged.
“The use of artificial intelligence will help E-GAP anticipate customers’ needs based on driving patterns and location, meaning we can understand exactly where the demand is and place vans in the right area at the right time.”
What are E-GAP’s growth plans for the next five years?
Being off-grid is the best way to avoid the limitations imposed by grid-connected charging and allows E-GAP to improve technology, capacity, and rollout time. We are hoping to expand geographically, offering direct services in Germany and the UK before the end of 2022, and in other markets in an indirect way, using a franchise formula or partner solution where the demand is not as high.
We are also looking to grow our product portfolio, offering an integrated storage solution that runs off-grid. This will provide customers with a fixed point of recharge that offers fast charging in a location that would otherwise be limited by grid constraints. These solutions can be installed either in a private home or commercial setting, such as the parking area of an office block, shopping mall or sporting arena. And by mobilizing the units, it will be easy to upscale and reposition them based on demand.
E-GAP is also developing an engineering and digital solutions entity, E-GAP Engineering, which we have built with a technology partner in Italy. It allows us to manage all technology developments in house from the charging modules themselves to the system that controls the supply.
What are E-GAP’s environmental initiatives?
Like many players in the market, E-GAP is finding ways to improve the sustainability of its services and bring more ecological solutions to market quickly. E-GAP monitors the performance of its batteries, and when they start to degrade, re-uses them as storage systems. This way, we extract 100% of the energy inside them, reducing waste and minimizing the environmental impact of battery disposal.
E-GAP also promotes 100% renewable energy generation. Many of our founding members are majority shareholders in Green Arrow Capital, the second independent national producer of renewable energy. The partnership between the two organizations allows us to distribute renewable energy through our fleet of vans. And once the integration between generation and distribution is complete, E-GAP will be the only fast-charging mobile operator in the world able to distribute renewable energy totally off-grid.
E-GAP is also ESG compliant, which is the Environmental, Social and Governance framework for assessing the impact of sustainability and ethical practices. We offer information to customers about how they’re contributing to environmental causes, helping promote greener living.
“We have developed bundled offers with automotive brands which absorb the cost of our service, giving the consumer access to fast, on-demand charging solutions at a lower premium than other fast-charging operators.”
How do you target your potential customers?
E-GAP works with other businesses to provide charging solutions to EV drivers within their markets. We have developed bundled offers with automotive brands such as FIAT, which absorb the cost of our service, giving the consumer access to fast, on-demand charging solutions at a lower premium than other fast-charging operators.
Businesses with a need to develop a charging offer – car makers, car sharing and rental companies, parking companies, hotels, airports and retailers – are ideal partners for E-GAP services. It makes little sense for them to invest large sums of money in charging infrastructures that will remain unused for extended periods.
How do you see mobile charging developing in the future?
The acceleration of EV adoption in the coming years will lead to a growing and continuous need for charging services. And, with a predicted 47.8 million EVs expected on European roads by 2030 – needed to achieve current CO2 targets – fixed infrastructure alone will not meet this demand in terms of investment risk and technical limitations.
E-GAP’s off-grid, fast, mobile and on-demand solution is scalable, both technically and logistically, and can follow growth curves, optimizing investments and offering a unique service in well-populated areas.
“E-GAP monitors the performance of its batteries, and when they start to degrade, re-uses them as storage systems. This way we extract 100% of the energy inside them, reducing waste and minimizing the environmental impact of battery disposal.”
About the Author:
CEO of E-GAP
Luca Fontanelli is the CEO of E-GAP, a mobile charging services provider for EVs. He is responsible for key corporate decisions and the management of operations and company resources, and acts as the main point of communication between the board and the executive arm of the company. Prior to his role at E-GAP, Luca cofounded and managed investor relations organization Officine CTS Group. Luca has a degree in economics and a masters in tax strategy and business planning. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.