Recharging electric cars, these 10 innovations that change everything

The densification of the charging point network sharpens competition, a good point for innovation.

Almost two years ago, i.e. prehistory on the electromobility timescale as the sector evolves so rapidly, we wondered about the future of services within charging stations and noted the poverty of the ‘supply’.

Nothing revolutionary, we only call on the operators to return to the model of the old oil service stations to offer similar services so that the electromobilist does not feel too lost or abandoned in the open field during his breaks to recharge. So toilets and, let’s go crazy, coffee and food without having to walk 3 kilometers in a dystopian zone of activity in search of the lost civilization.

The base, what?

Things have not necessarily evolved in this direction, but there is an explanation. In fact, with rare exceptions, most charging stations are located in car parks in shopping areas, hotels or motorway service areas. Which largely finds happiness while the beast is full of electrons.

In fact, if the recharging network operators have begun to “strengthen their offer”, it is not so much on the side of services related to comfort, but rather by betting on innovation.

It must be said that the sector has become especially competitive, with supply soaring in the last two years, and new charging stations opening – often at high speed – almost daily.

And when competition arrives and is put in battle order, it often leads to a firework of innovations. Is this the case in the cargo sector? The answer is yes, obviously, even if we’re still more into homeopathy than heavy shots like a carpet of bombs.

In any case, the positive signs are there, and this should only increase in the coming months and years. The opportunity to take stock -and to confirm that what seems innovative in one sector is sometimes -not always, fortunately- just the reproduction of proven recipes inspired by another sector, with the only condition of being the first to think about it.

Reservation of your charging station and Access to the Electra Station

The Electra start-up functions as a… start-up. In agile mode with innovation in its DNA. Thus, after having presented a new exclusive a few months ago consisting of giving the possibility of reserving your terminal directly through the mobile application before recharging, the young company has recently presented a new technological feat, Access to the Station, that allows you to recharge your electric vehicle even if the car park where the terminals are located is closed. A new feature that allows you to control the opening of barriers, gates, doors and gates leading to loading places. Note that Tesla offers a similar feature, but with a different operation, which consists of showing the parking code number on the screen of the car when you arrive to charge and it is closed. Less technology but just as effective.

Solar panel roofs and through stations from Fastned

If most networks of charging stations do not offer any shelter, this is not the case for the Dutch company Fastned, which from the very beginning set up magnificent covered sites whose awning is recognizable from afar. In addition, this roof, in addition to protecting customers from inclement weather, can house solar panels that can recharge 3 to 5 cars a day. And that’s not all. Fastned is, to our knowledge, the only network that offers “junction” stations whose terminals are set up in the direction of traffic, as opposed to the others where you must park in lines or on the cob. A deployment option that allows long vehicles, especially those towing a tow bar, to be loaded without blocking the other seats.

Plug & Charge by Ionity and Fastned

Ionity was the first open network (including non-Tesla) to offer automatic vehicle authentication for immediate charging start as soon as you connect to the terminal. Fastned followed soon after. To benefit from this service, you must have previously registered your vehicle on the application, then proceeded to a first “manual” charge. For the following, the stations recognize the car and welcome you without having to declare your identity again. Convenience and time saving.

Stations-e multiservice stations

For Stations-e, a charging station must be much more than a simple set of terminals for energy supply. The company’s vision is that a station should fit in and participate in local life by providing related services, such as optimal connectivity to 4G networks and WiFi, but also click and charge or even car sharing. Or real meeting points around social activities that can be carried out during the charging time.

Dreev’s vehicle to the net

Using the excess energy contained in your electric car’s battery to redistribute it to the grid is the promising idea behind V2G, or Vehicle To Grid. We talk about it more and more, but there are still not a large number of cars compatible with this protocol (we can cite the Kia EV6, for example), and neither are the stations. It is in this area that the Dreev company has specialized, a niche that is still little exploited but that probably promises a bright future, even more so in these times of threatened shortages and rising energy prices. A way of “smoothing” demand and distributing it according to need.

Volta and advertising in charging stations

An idea that may seem absurd, even irrelevant, but ultimately it is perhaps more intelligent than it seems. Unique and original, Volta’s solution is based on recharging stations equipped with large digital screens that allow the operator to broadcast advertising on them to cushion the installation. What’s the point of broadcasting ads to users who don’t stay in their car while it’s charging? This is precisely because the screen of the Volta terminals does not point to the electromobilista in charge but to the passers-by who are nearby. Then it is the location that counts, especially in large car parks.

Terminals on streetlights

Little widespread (and almost non-existent in France), this way of taking advantage of existing urban facilities is beginning to spread to Berlin and London. Ubitricity, manufacturer of charging solutions for electric vehicles, has won a public tender from the city of Berlin to create at least 200 charging points on streetlights in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf and Marzahn-Hellersdorf districts. Its implementation is part of a project to improve air quality financed by the federal government. A smart way to improve existing infrastructure without creating new nuisances that clutter public roads.

sidewalk bollards

A solution that at first glance seems quite strange, even counterintuitive, and that is far from unanimous if we believe the first reactions. During a conference on electric mobility, the German company Rheinmetall presented its terminal concept, which is integrated directly into the curbs of the sidewalks. The idea here is also to free up the public space as much as possible so as not to disturb other users. But many doubts arise about the usability of this device, as well as about its supposed dangerous reliability due to its exposure to all the ups and downs of public roads.

Nio Battery Instant Swap

Some believe in it with strength as iron, others not for a second. Waiting for the debate to be resolved here, this doesn’t really seem to be a question in the Middle Kingdom as many carriers already offer solutions for battery change, or instant change of batteries. And this obviously also involves specialized stations, which are no longer meant to recharge your batteries, but to replace them on the fly with full ones, in less than 5 minutes, or about the time of a full tank of essence. We had the opportunity to test this service in real conditions, and we have to admit that our reporter was impressed with the device. If you are still skeptical, know that Nio has already opened no less than 800 Power Swap battery exchange stations in China. A little…

QoWatt Blockchain and NFT

Nouveau venu sur le marché et encore peu connu, QoWatt adopts an original model based on Blockchain and NFT to «reward» their utilities and other measures to deliver and maintain after the recharge terminals QoWatt joins electricity to 40% issue d’ renewable energy. The 5 types of exclusive NFTs offer their holders discounts of up to 32% on recharging their electric vehicle. Well, it may sound a bit abstruse put like that, but a little tour of their site will let you know a bit more.

In conclusion

The electric vehicle recharging sector is a world a little apart, combining high technology (apps, servers, etc.), infrastructure and energy engineering, and land management. Many professions that may seem contradictory and yet coexist within the same company. Innovation must find its way into this cocktail of somewhat disparate trades, but isn’t it rightly said that creativity is born of restriction?

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