Looking forward on …Smart Charging

Bridging electric Mobility and the energy ecosystem for a sustainable integration of Electric Vehicles to the power grid...We spoke with Jedlix CEO Serge Subiron on the details.

The Jedlix app lets users charge their electric car easily using greener, cheaper energy, with savings of up to €200 per year. Can you take us through the process? 

Smart charging is about charging at the right time. Right for the end-user, when the energy tariff is lowest or when renewable energy is available; right for the energy supplier, when its wholesale purchasing costs are low and/or to contribute to its portfolio management; right for the national or local grid when EV batteries can help balance supply and demand by delaying their charge, or by discharging energy. 

It may sound complex. But for the end-user, it is fairly simple and natural thanks to the set & forget settings of the app. A Jedlix app user, or a user of a car OEM app we power, allows us to smart charge his car when plugged in at home, or at a public or semi-public charging station. He chooses the EV model, logs the reference of the power supply contract, defines the departure time per day of the week, and the desired state of charge for the next day. We then reward him/her with a cash-back payment of anywhere between €5 to €30 per month depending on the volume of energy we have been able to smart charge over the period.

In the Netherlands for instance, the users connected to our platform via the apps plug their cars to the power grid on average 14 hours per day, while we only need 3 to 4 hours to charge their battery to the target level of charge. It leaves us about 10 hours of flexibility to charge based on energy markets signals in partnership with retailers such as Eneco, Greenchoice, OM and Oxxio. We can also offer the available capacity of our aggregated fleet to the Dutch TSO, Tennet for grid balancing services. This is the way we generate revenue and get paid by these energy players for the flexibility we enable. We can then share this revenue with the users, directly through our app, or via car OEMs, or at times by a discount directly on the energy bill of our retail partners. 

What green power sources are you using? Why are you emphasising this? 

Let’s assume that we do reach the BNEF forecast of 10 million EVs in Europe by 2025. This is an additional demand of 70 to 100 GW combined charge power for the grid, with especially a major impact on evening peaks, as 90% of the charge is done at home. To avoid charging with highly carbonized power production during these peak periods, we need to control EVs power demand at scale. 

The good news is that the OEMs have already built-in the necessary Cloud connectivity to the vehicles. Through a platform like Jedlix, they can enable smart charging as the native mode of the EVs, anywhere, anytime, seamlessly across any charging infrastructure. This way they can create the necessary flexibility pool to contribute to the energy transition in an ecosystem with the electric mobility and the energy stakeholders. 

While we do not sell “green energy”, we make sure that charging is done with the lowest CO2 impact and uses as much renewables as possible. The moment of charging, provided by the flexibility in the charging process, is key in the transition towards a renewable energy system.

With Elaad, a renowned Dutch research center, we have demonstrated that Jedlix smart charging cuts this evening peak by close to 50% and the related CO2 emissions. We believe this is important for the EV adopters, together with the guarantee that they charge with the highest possible renewable energy share across the year. This is also why, across Europe, we partner with energy suppliers with “green offers” and significant solar and wind portfolio to help them optimise the use of their assets. EV drivers are indeed prosumers and very sensitive to the origin of the power they use! Our own data and studies confirm that EV drivers switch relatively more to cheaper and more green offers in the market. 

Your product is built on the transition to e-vehicles and a greater charging network. Has this network expanded enough? How does the situation and transition in the EU compare to that in Asia or the US?

The adoption of electric vehicles is rising in all markets and so is the overall charging network. Such a network is needed to support all trips and (basic) mobility needs even though the bulk of charging volume can be done overnight. The level of urbanization, mobility needs, and regulatory incentive determine EV sales and charging networks currently. In China we see therefore relatively more DC (fast) chargers compared to the US and EU.  

Differences in the level of liberalisation in the energy market also impact how and which parties take the lead in smart charging topics. We even see some regions considering smart charging is mandatory for all EVs. Obviously, we adapt our platform to this and support our partners in these developments.

Anyone driving an EV every day, commuting to work, or travelling long distances would reckon that charging infrastructure is still an issue. Globally not enough charging points, not in the right location, and as importantly, not fast enough at a reasonable price. Take the statistics of the European Alternative Fuels Observatory: less than 200,000 public charging points have been installed across Europe as of 2019, growing “slowly” by 10% - 15% per year over the past 3 to 4 years.    

Clearly, we are reproducing an EV “charging divide” between countries, territories with high and very low penetration, exactly as the older “digital divide”. I live in Rotterdam. We have about 3,000 charging points over the city. Accessing a charging location is easy. Look at Biarritz in the South of France where the last G7 Summit took place: last time I checked there is less than 20 stations in town. Happy hunting! 

There is still a lot of work to kill the driving range anxiety and charging complexity to enable a mass market transition to e-mobility. Even the few thousands of early adopters who are using a Jedlix app in the Netherlands remain cautious with their state of charge as they plug-in again in average when they go below 50% of battery capacity, ie more than 150km of range. Only 5% of them would wait for a driving range of 50km (slightly above the average daily driving distance in this country) to charge again! Still quite some work to do on this topic!

Charging in public or semi-public locations is important in countries like the Netherlands where many do not have their own parking lane and charge overnight in the streets. 

Still, with probably about 1,3 million charging points in the private domain across Europe, at home or the office, our service counts mainly on home charging to generate flexibility currency and value to EV drivers. As we control the charge directly from the car, and not via the EV Supply Equipment, we are not dependent on whether these wallboxes or “granny cables” are connected or not, with high, medium or low power. Obviously, the higher the charge power, the bigger the flexibility! 

In which countries are you operating at the moment? Do you have expansion plans? 

We were born in the Netherlands in 2016 as a spin-off venture of Eneco. We are now deploying in France and Belgium, and we are starting to expand into Germany and the UK. Other countries like Norway are under preparation. We focus on the main EV European countries first. Asia and US will be next! 

Your work with partners such as Renault, Total and BMW. What is the importance of working with huge players in the mobility ecosystem? Are there specific advantages and disadvantages? 

We want to help set smart charging as the native, standard charging mode of EVs globally. This is why we partner with OEMs like Tesla, BMW, Renault and others to operate a car-centric smart charging model. We connect directly to their back-end system to get rich data from the car and control directly its charging process. We also partner with retailers, aggregators and grid operators in Europe, to facilitate the sustainable insertion of EVs in the energy system, bring new flexibility opportunities to them with these new “batteries-on-wheels” that we aggregate in our “Virtual Power Plant”, and share the revenue created with all stakeholders. 

The advantage of working with car OEMs who are global players, is that we build for scale and global deployment. We can create a significant network effect with the energy stakeholders we bridge in. Smart charging brings together a lot of stakeholders, so scaling is key for a successful business model in this domain. It is sometimes a challenge for a small size team focussing on software, machine learning, data science, eMobility services to interact with such industrial groups and their long cycles. I trust they appreciate our agility, pragmatism, the impact of our platform on their services strategy. Of course, we share the same passion for eMobility and energy.  Equally they help us think processes, automation, scale, and build a viable business model across the complete value chain, from the drivers to the grid.

What is the most innovative mobility trend at the moment? 

I think that the most important trend is the arrival of plenty of new EV models in the market, in the various segments from most of the leading OEMs, with the diversity of their brand territories, pricing and product differentiation. This revolution of the offer is the sign that we are migrating from a market at scale, with early adopters, to a mass market where electric vehicles are a natural, normal choice for everyone. 

From a technology innovation point of view, I am quite impressed by the level of intelligence and readiness reached by the autonomous driving of cars like the Model 3.  There is so much technology complexity behind it, and still they have managed to make it invisible and (almost) natural.! The developments in autonomy will probably also lead to interesting new opportunities in the energy domain which are hard to envision with our thinking today.  

In our smart charging domain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, data science combined with behavioural science are also quite critical to deliver value to end-users and B2B partners alike.

How has your hometown changed in the past 30 years? And what changes do you predict for the next 30 years?

The Basque region I am from in the south of France has changed in many ways over the past 30 years, but probably not on electric mobility! I already mentioned the poor infrastructure in Biarritz. Equally, I hardly saw a few ZOEs and a couple of Tesla S and X this summer over there. Electric Vehicles are quite a natural choice in the Netherlands, partly thanks to a significant level of tax and incentives. 

30 years is too far away for me to make predictions, even if I am a science fiction fan!

Still, in 10 years from now, and most probably sooner, ultra-connected, autonomous, probably shared electric vehicles will the norm of mobility as we know it today, and will help invent new forms of individual and public mobilities. All the technology and complexity will have become totally invisible and their daily use simply natural. Smart charging will be part of the base service portfolio of the OEMs and activated by default for a seamless integration into fully decentralised energy grids! 

Jedlix at the IAA

Jedlix can be found at Stand 38, Hall 5, at the New Mobility World. 

Jedlix's CEO Serge Subiron will additionally participate in the panel discussion ‘Taking pole position’ on the question what a power utilities provider, a future mobility platform, a global car manufacturer and an environmental activist have in common... This takes place on September 12 at 3PM! 

Zu Jedlix

Jedlix teams-up with car OEMs such as Tesla, Renault, BMW and multiple energy partners to unlock the value of the flexibility of EVs charging process at scale, reduce the Total Cost of Ownership of the cars, and enable their sustainable insertion into the energy grid.