Automotive companies have picked up their pace recently, most of the major brands now have BEV models planned for the next 5 years. But who is responsible for building the EV charging network? Should the same companies leading the vehicle innovation be the ones building the network too?
A recent study by Deloitte asked this question to a variety of consumer groups across Europe. Whilst governments consistently ranked high with consumers, so too did the utility companies. In Germany, France, Italy and Austria more than 25% of the audience thought that utilities should take lead responsibility. Here at Everon we decided to mirror this question with our audience and it was remarkably similar, 26% saw utilities as the most responsible after governments. If consumers expect to see utilities in this space which businesses are meeting their expectations? Who will deliver the network and diversify their income?
What’s the opportunity?
One study by Utility Dive states that only 59% of utilities have run EV charging pilots or test projects and 49% have run feasibility studies. We assume some of these pilots are on a small scale, which makes 59% surprisingly low. The growth of the EV market is a huge opportunity, take Norway for example, where 56% of new cars in 2019 were EVs yet the infrastructure still needs development. So why is there hesitation? Pricing and business models are often ranked as the biggest barriers. Whilst these can be difficult to get right, the companies taking part today, will be the successful charging service providers tomorrow.
Who’s the competition?
Some utilities are embracing the shift towards EVs, take Dutch based Eneco, they created an eMobility division dedicated to this market or Engie with its investment in the EVBox group. Whilst other companies hesitate, we’re seeing a rise in EV charging startups. Q1 of 2020 saw a corona-defying $1.53 billion raised for e-Mobility businesses worldwide, this amount excludes 22 high profile deals which could add another estimated 1 billion to that total. 7 of these deals were specific to the charging management sector. Investment firms, OEMs and governments are reacting to the customer demand. Now is the perfect time to create partnerships in order to share the responsibility.
What does the future hold?
Smart homes will undoubtedly become more influential, innovations like the Tesla Powerwall or solar panels show how households are changing. Whilst these products are still quite expensive, the prices are dropping. Then there’s vehicle innovation, cars like the Polestar 2, which comes with a powerful operating system built in. The amount of data travelling along with the energy will become just as valuable. All of this will increase as cars and homes merge in the internet of things.
Looking 10 years ahead and the average EV increasing household energy up by 60-100% higher, we could see homes with multiple energy contracts. 1 for their car, 1 for the home, 1 for power they exchange back to the grid and maybe even more? Are utility companies positioned well to deliver this future with their current investment? Could they connect all of these propositions? That remains to be seen but the investors today are the innovators of tomorrow.
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