Reflexion on Previous Years
I know, I know. Every time we hear about electric vehicle lately Norway is being mentioned. However, making an annual trip to Norway for the past three years really opened my eyes on how quickly a market can increase with the right motivation and incentives.
European EV Market
In the last three years the amount of EVs on the road is not only noticeable on paper but drastically obvious on the road. All manufacturers are rushing electric models to Norwegian dealership lots as the demand keeps increasing faster than the annual production rate. During my trip to Amsterdam, I spoke with Morten Eibak, Sales Manager at Hyundai Norway. He shared that over 90% of all Hyundai vehicles now sold in Norway are electric or plug-in hybrid (PHEV). They are at a point where they have to incentivize dealerships to sell petrol powered vehicles as they aren't being sold. It's not just Norway though, the Netherlands is experiencing a phenomenal growth in its EV market as well. At Fastned, the annual user increased from 535 to over 17 900 in only four years.
During the weekend, I had the chance to walk with a local friend around Oslo when we turned a corner providing an exceptional view on the Port of Oslo. There it was, first shipment of Tesla model 3 and orders for additional S and X. It was a sea of cars waiting to be delivered. I would've needed to use the panoramic view setting on my phone to capture the whole shipment as it keeps going further on the right for the same distance.
In many areas of North America, the typical fast charging strategy infrastructure looks like this: A single station with a queue of cars waiting to charge. On a lucky day, one may not have to wait at all but the likelihood of that happening is very slim especially in busy areas.
This situation isn't encouraging people to purchase an EV when drivers are witnessing a line-up to recharge. Installing a single DCFC in a high-traffic area is very welcomed by the existing EV drivers but also provides a negative image for the industry. It's also a missed opportunity to invest higher capital up front for future expansion.
On the contrary, in Norway, it is easy to find charging hubs often comprised of over fifty Tesla superchargers, six DCFC 50kWh and four 22kWh. I stopped on a Tuesday in the middle of the afternoon, probably one of the quieter moments of the week, and people were still buzzing around.
In Canada, the fast charging infrastructure has mostly been deployed by crown corporation utilities. This situation isn't ideal as BC Hydro is relying on public funding and budgets to increase the amount of locations to serve additional communities. Unfortunately, this also resulted in providing only one station to each site leaving a long queue of cars waiting to charge during weekends and rush hours. Though, this situation may change soon. As of March 22nd, 2019, with the British Columbia Utilities Commission recommendations, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources approved the suggested regulation exemption allowing private organizations to charge a fee for electric vehicle charging services making a business case for private investments.
EVSE Business Models
The business models are rapidly shifting into revenue generating models in which providing fast charging services for a fee generates a profit as the EV market keeps growing rapidly along with provincial and federal incentives. Having gas station companies entering the market clearly stipulates that the demand is now big enough to make the investment. Many business models can be created from DCFC with a couple level 2 chargers at a mall to a full gas station like charging hub.
Traveling around the world has broaden my perspective on the impact of the infrastructure and culture change ahead of us. Decentralizing the energy industry has never been done before and is now up-for-grab to whomever dares to bring a business model to life.
- Maxime Charron