Eradicating EV range anxiety with Chargetrip
Chargetrip is accelerating the advent of sustainable transportation by developing the missing tools that help people and businesses switch to electric mobility. Build by developers but governed by nature. Chargetrip has created a next-generation routing engine for Electric Mobility.
The Energy Bit is excited about following emerging technologies and markets. We want to thank Chargetrip for sharing their insight and experience with us!
How did the company come about? Have you found there to be a lot of competition for EV route planning yet?
Chargetrip was founded in 2017 by a group of friends who share the same interest in sustainability. It all began when Mark, who would later become one of the founders of Chargetrip, acknowledged that he didn’t feel confident using his electric car for long trips. He was using his EV only for short commuting because of range-anxiety, the fear of being stranded with an empty battery. Range-anxiety is considered one of the most significant barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles. Hence, to speed up the sustainable mobility transition, we decided to address the need for drivers to drive effortlessly anywhere with their electric car and started working on Chargetrip’s routing predictive navigation software.
EV drivers need a different routing engine than the one ICE drivers would use because they need to take into account significantly more variables when planning their route. For example, there are four different plug-types, 20 different charge speeds, payment methods that aren’t interoperable, and then there are outside variables that impact the capacity of your battery like temperature, weather, and elevation. Chargetrip’s predictive routing engine takes all these different variables into account and plans the best route for the driver.
E-mobility is still an immature market that is evolving. Various players are being pulled in. Automakers, electric utilities, oil & gas companies, transportation and logistics, and software companies are converging and forced into one new EV vertical. We are one of the first companies building navigation and routing software specific for EVs. And as the market matures, we believe that more players will naturally follow us.
How many clients are connected to your platform and what kind of growth is expected? Has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your original plans?
Chargetrip has clients in mature markets such as Norway, New Zealand, and Germany. Furthermore, we serve the Nordics with Elbil and another twenty countries around the globe with Porsche. We estimate that about 2% of the EV drivers in the world are currently using our routing engine. We are closing deals with companies that operate in the USA, across Europe, and we have our first customer in the Netherlands, which will further boost our growth.
Due to the covid-19 crisis, the market expects a drop in the number of electric vehicles sold this year. But sales will eventually recover, and we see that the timeline of automotive companies remains almost unchanged. Furthermore, major research institutes agree that the long-term outlook of the market is bright. Even the EU recovery plan has a strong focus on green mobility, and State members such as France and Germany are adopting important measures to push the adoption of electric vehicles.
These are positive signals also for us. We have slowed down our scaling plan slightly, but for the rest, our roadmap hasn’t suffered significant changes.
How are the parameters for EV route planning determined? Do these vary on different continents and in different locations?
We harvest data from different sources. Our routing engine uses over fifteen different variables to calculate the real-time range of any electric vehicle. The consumption-model of the EV, temperature, weather, charge speed, elevation, rolling resistance, real-time vehicle data, and availability of charge stations are all taken into account. Chargetrip’s routing algorithms calculate the best route to a driver’s destination, with the optimal charge stations in between. When variables change, the route can be updated automatically.
The parameters our routing engine applies are universal; as long as we have a dynamic charging station database in a geographical area, we can calculate routes. However, there are some local specifications. For example, we work with Vector, a New Zealand utility. Roads are very windy there, so we adapted the way we account for road curvature in the consumption model.
What areas does Chargetrip currently operate in, and what is the expansion plan for the next five years?
Currently, Chargetrip has customers based in Norway, Germany, and New Zealand. We now serve OEMs, CPOs, energy companies, and EV drivers associations that aim at improving the EV user experience of their clients.
In the coming years, as the Total Costs of Operation of EV decrease, more and more operators will adopt them. Our API will help to optimize the costs of owned, leased, rented, shared, and autonomous electrified fleets.
Can you tell us about your white-label application and API? What are the benefits to consumers?
As a SaaS company, we serve business clients who either want to integrate our API in their existing EV driver application or hire us to build a white-label app when they don’t have their own front-ends. Chargetrip’s first client was Elbil, the association of EV drivers in Norway, the country with the highest proportion of electric cars in the world. Thus, from the beginning, we had a large user base of early adopters interested in giving their feedback on the white label application, which helped us gain valuable insights to optimize the User Experience paradigms that are specific for EV drivers.
We built the EV routing engine to guarantee the best user experience to both developers working with the API and to end-users who would utilize the products: the drivers.
The Chargetrip API uses GraphQL, a data query language that only fetches relevant data. GraphQL facilitates developers who deal with complex and dynamic data structures. Additionally, Chargetrip’s API comes pre-integrated with several station databases. This combination enables developers to build new routing applications quickly.
We also pre-integrated telemetry layers in our API, which allows us to decrease the loading time of the application when end-users plan their routes. Our clients want to offer their EV drivers a pleasant experience at 360 degrees, and effortless route planning plays a crucial role.
What data management and sharing arrangements does the company have and how is the security of data taken care of?
We need to distinguish between users’ personal information and the data generated by the utilization of the products we develop. Chargetrip only collects pseudo-anonymized usage data in compliance with the European Union’s GDPR. We use this data to improve our API and refine our routing engine performance. Chargetrip uses data abstraction layers to expose third party data like energy pricing, charge station availability, and car consumption models. Furthermore, all login services we use are SOC 2 Type II and ISO27001 certified.
What deals do you have with EV renters, manufacturers, and are there any software integration opportunities?
Car manufacturers, energy companies, and fleet managers, among others, are now building their apps for EV drivers or fleets and are looking to add navigation to it. Here is where Chargetrip comes in with our routing engine.
Developers can easily integrate our API into their software stack. The documentation is publicly available on our website. Upon request, we provide the API keys and the technical support needed.
In case our client doesn’t already have a front-end application, we will build a white-label one powered by the Chargetrip’s API.
How does Chargetrip promote sustainability and carbon reduction?
Mobility is a crucial area that policymakers, companies, and citizens need to address to reduce global emissions of CO2. By offering a tool that eliminates the three most significant adoption barriers for electric vehicles, namely range-anxiety, charge-anxiety, and the operational complexity of electrifying a fleet, we help to accelerate the advent of sustainable mobility.
Chargetrip is also working to become a Certified B Corporation. Completing this assessment will help us evaluate our processes and determine the impact we have on the environment and society. Moreover, we want to attract mission-driven talent, and being a Certified B Corporation will help. Our team is very enthusiastic that we have set this goal for ourselves.
How do you see the current EV market vs ICE and upcoming fuel cell vehicles?
We believe that electrification of mobility will happen, driven by the cost factor. Cost is, together with range anxiety, the most significant barrier to the adoption of EV. Manufacturers are improving the technology they apply. Batteries make up most of the cost of an EV; thus, with battery costs and electricity prices decreasing, EV sales will grow, and the market will expand.
However, until electric vehicles reach cost parity across all major segments, it’s fundamental that policymakers incentives the transition to green mobility. Regional and local government policies have driven the EV market over the last years. We see this in a country like Norway, where subsidies and favorable tax exemptions for EVs on one hand, in combination with CO2 taxes for ICE vehicles on the other hand, have resulted in people switching to electric cars rapidly. What many people don’t realize is that introducing both measures resulted in a neutral budget impact for the Norwegian government.
Regarding fuel cell vehicles, we believe that using hydrogen for cars is energy inefficient. While hydrogen is almost 150 times more energy-dense than lithium batteries, you lose about 60% of the power along the supply chain, when generating, converting, chilling, transporting, reconverting, storing, pumping, decompressing it, and turning it back to electricity to power the electric motor of a fuel cell-powered vehicle. That’s why battery-powered vehicles are generally more cost-effective since there is very little energy loss from ‘well to wheel,’ and they are effortless to charge.
The use case for fuel cell vehicles is probably heavy transport trucks that cover long distances because they need a lot of power, and hydrogen is well suited to deliver that. For all other use cases, our opinion is that battery-electric powered vehicles are the more cost-effective option.