An electrifying partnership
New relations for new solutions
Some challenges are so great they cannot be undertaken alone. One such challenge is the e-mobility boom. As people increasingly switch to electric vehicles, they need a charging infrastructure that is both powerful and reliable. To deliver this, Hager Group is joining forces with partners to pursue a rather unconventional approach.
Fill her up! A purely routine task for drivers of vehicles with combustion engines can sometimes still present a challenge for electric vehicle owners. For instance, when they pull up to a charging station, they set in motion a complex technical process: their vehicle first needs to be identified by the charging point, the consumption data then has to be measured and transferred to the customer centre for billing. All this must be done quickly and, if possible, without the need for a complex login process. Data transmission also needs to be stable throughout and data security guaranteed. In short, no easy task.
If the electric vehicle is to become part of an intelligent energy network, its charging infrastructure must also become smarter.
It is for this reason that Hager Group has teamed up with a group of selected partners who together intend to make electric refuelling safer, smarter and more convenient. One of these is IoTecha, a New Jersey-based US start-up in which Hager Group has been an investor since November 2018. IoTecha specialises in connected technologies for electric charging; its name is derived from ‘IoT’ (the acronym for the ‘Internet of Things’).
“Charging an electric vehicle should be no more complicated than a smartphone immediately finding a network when you step off a plane somewhere,” explains Oleg Logvinov, the company’s co-founder and CEO. “And, of course, it has to be at least as safe.”
This is where the IoT team’s specialised software comes in. Oleg Logvinov and his colleagues helped develop Powerline communication technology, which allows electric vehicles to communicate with external chargers in Combined Charging Systems (CCS). Combined charging systems are already used by most car manufacturers. This makes them an integral element of the electric vehicle ecosystem, which brings together charging points, photovoltaic systems (or other renewable energy generators) and home energy management systems in an intelligent whole.
The American start-up, which develops smart IoT solutions for the electric charging infrastructure, was founded in 2016 by Oleg Logvinov alongside colleagues from STMicroelectronics. The New Jersey-based company employs 40 permanent staff and operates offices on the West Coast of America as well as in the Belarusian capital Minsk. Besides its founders and Hager Group, IoTecha also lists Taiwan-based Elitegroup Computer Systems, one of the world’s largest producers of PC motherboards, as an investor. IoTecha’s CCS (Combined Charging System) on Module (CCSoM) is already integrated into many chargers. The number of customers using the CCSoM and IoTecha’s IoT.ON™ is growing rapidly.
For Jacques Kraemer, Hager Group Technical Concept Engineering and E-Mobility Manager, cooperation with IoTecha is therefore the logical next step. According to this expert, over the past ten years, Hager Group has gained valuable experience in charging station development, which it has put to the test in partnerships with car manufacturers such as Toyota, Peugeot, BMW and Audi. “Now is the time to move from local offers to global solutions,” explains Jacques Kraemer. “Today, charging stations alone are no longer sufficient. They have to be integrated within an energy management system that also includes energy storage and a photovoltaic system.”
In other words, if the electric vehicle is to become part of an intelligent energy network, its charging infrastructure must also become smarter. Charging will also have to be easy to use and completely reliable from the perspective of data security to prevent access to hackers. This is precisely where IoTecha’s charging solutions, based on the Combined Charging System in compliance with the ISO/IEC 15118 standard, come in.
In a complex, fast-moving world, no one can do everything on their own. Cooperation offers potential that you could never develop alone.
The difference between the two partners is striking: on the one hand, we have the family-owned Hager Group with its 11,500 employees and a presence in 120 countries worldwide, while on the other, we have an American start-up with 40 employees and offices in New Jersey, California and the Belarusian capital of Minsk. “As a small, young company, IoTecha can move much faster than we can,” says Jacques Kraemer, who currently confers with his partners on the American East Coast almost daily. “It would have taken us years to develop the Internet of Things solutions that IoTecha offers us. For its part, IoTecha benefits from Hager Group’s size and experience: we offer our partner attractive market access, proven structures and our experience in scaling solution offers.”
Electricité de France (EDF)
A key player in the energy transition, the EDF group, is an integrated electricity company, active in all areas of business: generation, transmission, distribution, energy supply and trading, and energy services. In October 2018, the French group launched its ambitious Plan de Mobilité Electrique (Electric Mobility Plan) in order to become the sector’s leading energy company in its four biggest European markets (France, UK, Italy and Belgium) by 2022. EDF has set itself three objectives to be achieved by 2022: to become the number 1 electricity supplier for electric vehicles, the number 1 charging network operator, and the European market leader in smart charging.
Izivia, a subsidiary of the EDF Group, already operates 8,000 charging stations in France. The EDF Group intends to increase this number to 75,000 by 2022. Hager Group, working with IoTecha, is proud to be one of the partners supporting this national effort.
These combined strengths did not escape the attention of EDF’s e-mobility experts. France’s biggest energy company wants to install 75,000 charging points throughout Europe by 2022 and has contractually secured Hager Group and IoTecha as its premium partner. For Oleg Logvinov and Jacques Kraemer, this all represents the start of a most promising partnership.
“The energy transition is turning traditional business models on their head and opening up a host of new business opportunities,” says Jacques Kraemer. To take advantage of these, every company needs specialised partners. “In a complex, fast-moving world like ours, no one can do everything on their own. And why should they? After all, cooperation offers potential that you could never develop on your own. We will therefore certainly establish further partnerships.”
Seen in this light, the new charging station is more than just an intelligent charging product. It is also a symbol of cooperation between some very different partners who are looking to assure their mutual success in the e-mobility market. And after a slow start, momentum is picking up. There are now almost six million electric vehicles on the roads worldwide, all of which need charging.