Twelve years ago, long before the first Tesla arrived, Louis Tremblay was dreaming of electric vehicles. Now 33, he heads a company which is very real, and is currently on the cusp of a major achievement: coast-to-coast transportation electrification.
The company, AddÉnergie, currently deploys over 2200 smart charging stations covering two major electrified road networks. Thanks to these stations, over 35,000 electric vehicle recharging operations are performed each month. At least 12,000 of the estimated 20,000 electric vehicle (EV) owners are members of a network powered by AddÉnergie.
The company CEO is quick to point out that this is just the beginning of the adventure: in June, AddÉnergie launched FLO, the largest charging station network in the country. “Our goal is to accelerate the arrival of EVs and transportation electrification,” affirms Louis Tremblay. Over the next eight years, he plans to install 8000 additional commercial charging stations on Canadian soil.
Freeing the electrical potential
However, the largest opportunity for growth belongs to the residential and fleet customer markets. While the ratio of public charging stations to vehicles is 20 to 1, fleet and residential customer ratios are 1 to 1. The challenges in these markets consists of offering charging stations that are both reliable and affordable.
“Fleet managers can already see the enormous potential of transportation electrification. Our objective at AddÉnergie is to offer charging infrastructure them will help them exploit the full potential of this mode of transportation,” he explains. However, we must start by investing in the education of these users. “Fleet managers are used to talking in terms of distance per litre, while we talk in kW/hours per kilometre. When I tell you that you can achieve 200 watthours per kilometre, what exactly does that mean?”, asks Louis Tremblay.
The advantages associated with EVs; elimination of greenhouse gases, reduced maintenance and operating expenses, far outweigh the inconveniences. Nonetheless, customers must learn about limited EV autonomy, which requires plugging into a charging station. In principal, this isn’t a major concern, as electricity is cheap and all that is required is to connect the vehicle to the electrical grid and recharge the batteries, but fleet managers might do a double take when they receive their electrical bill.
Additional costs are associated with the recharge output of the recharging operation. When it comes to recharging several vehicles at once, as with a fleet of, let’s say 20 vehicles, the costs may explode if you aren’t careful. “It’s comparable to filling a swimming pool with electrons each month. The electrons are affordable, almost nothing, but if you decide to fill your pool all at once, on the 31st day of the month, you will need a very large pipe. The size of the pipe, that’s the recharge output (kW), and it can inflate your bill very quickly.” This explains the importance of intelligent electron transfer management, so as to avoid any surcharges related to billable power.
Quality, “smart” charging stations
Several charging station models and types are currently available in the market, which explains why it’s important to identify the charging context. Example: a charging station destined for the retail market must be avoided at all costs in a commercial environment. Also, if you are looking at an outdoor installation, waterproofing is essential, as well as components and materials designed to withstand the rigours of our brutal winters.
Another important element to consider is the quality and safety of the charge. “At AddEnergie, we strongly believe that reliability is the key to a positive customer experience,” adds the company CEO. “By connecting our charging stations to a 24/7 surveillance system, our EV customers can sleep soundly knowing that their vehicles will always be recharged. For us, customer peace of mind is at the very heart of our corporate mission,” he concludes.