This week on Mobility Moments, Auto Futures speaks with Effie Vraka, Easee’s Head of UK Operations. The Norwegian company’s “Charging Robot” has been designed in a sleek and simple format, focused on the power grid of the future by acting as a smart electricity valve.
So, Effie, tell us about Easee?
Easee turned three years old only a couple of weeks ago and, as we speak, we produce and sell more charge points than any other charge point manufacturer in Europe. Although numbers were never our goal, it shows how committed and deeply focused we are on our dual mission: to shape the electricity grid of the future and the company culture of the future.
Our technology is not designed just to safely charge a car. It is designed to play vital role in how the grid will cope and evolve to meet the increased demand as a result of the wider EV adoption. We have multiple patents and unique features on this that made it the default choice in Norway in such short time, where the majority of vehicles are already electric.
It is still early days in the UK but we are definitely getting there in an even more accelerated pace, after the government’s 2030 plan announcement! So we are bringing all the learnings and expertise from the most mature EV market in the world and offering them to the UK market.
To give you an example, most households in UK are potentially thinking that their next car may be electric and considering the infrastructure you need at home for this. But very few are thinking, what is going to happen if I have a second, even a third EV at home? How can I charge them all overnight ready to go in the morning? Is my power supply going to cope?
The Norwegian market is already there and Easee have addressed such problems. An Easee Robot is not a gadget for a year or two, but becomes part of your house infrastructure for the years to come, providing a future-proof, energy-efficient and modular solution.
Our culture is ingrained in everything we do. We challenge each other and do not settle until we find the best solution – we call it a “hell yes!” moment.
You pride your innovation on being a simplified charging solution. How so?
You can see the Scandinavian design ethos across our hardware and software. We have kept all the complexity away from the user, neatly packed into a clever little box. We have used the smallest and most efficient components, saving up to 69% on materials vs. other similar capability charge points.
Our charging robot is truly universal and can work across the globe, with 1-, 2- and 3-phase supply. It can also be both tethered and untethered. No need to go through specs and face dilemmas choosing between different variants and models. All you need to choose is the colour of your cover! The design is minimal and there is no redundancy – everything that is there has a function. We have even also thought of our installers, making the installation a very quick, safe and streamlined experience.
What were the main issues with alternative charging processes? Was this the catalyst of the creation we see today?
Our biggest competitor is not other manufacturers, but the status-quo; the established. A lot of the solutions focus around how to create a product that does the job and complies with the regulations. Forgetting that a lot of these regulations have not really changed or evolved for the last 20-30 years but technology has evolved so much since.
In parallel with creating the safest and most innovative charging products, in Easee we see it as our mission to show and influence change throughout the value chain, not just the end-point, thus “shaping the grid of the future.”
How does this change from home charging to more commercial use?
It actually doesn’t – at least not with Easee! Of course, the most convenient and cost-effective way is to charge at home, but at Easee we have the vision of a unified and seamless user experience owning an EV, wherever you live or happen to be.
A lot is in the roadmap and yet to come to the market, but you can already see this unified experience approach between an “Easee Home,” our domestic solution, and “Easee Charge,” our commercial proposition.
How can you, and other companies involved in the sector, distribute power more efficiently and utilise capacity?
The wider EV adoption will inevitably bring more electricity demand but, at the same time, wind turbines are forced to stop when the wind blows too much, to stop the over-supply. This, seemingly, paradox, simply means that demand and supply is not so much of an increased energy generation issue, but more of a timing issue.
If EVs are seen as a storage solution when oversupply happens, you do not need to switch off the turbine; you charge the cars with really cheap and green energy. This is where smart chargers and other connected services can play a major role in, using local weather forecast and other data points to balance supply and demand, still achieving what the end user ultimately needs: a charged car ready to go, according to their life schedule.
What makes Norway so special in terms of EVs and the supporting infrastructure?
Quite simply, it is a glimpse into the future for any other country; I would say they are already where the UK is going to be in 5-6 years. The small population and the more dependable renewables sources definitely helped the adoption take off and the infrastructure accelerate, once the right policies and incentives were introduced. You could not copy and paste the model, but there are major learnings to be leveraged.
How can larger regions leverage this ‘Norwegian philosophy’?
Like with everything else, what worked well for you isn’t necessarily going to work in another market. Norway has shown the world that it is possible right now – not in 10 or 20 years – and this is its biggest contribution for me.
The holistic view they took in their successful venture is a big take-away for any country. But there is definitely a lot of innovation that remains to be done, at local and global level, before the world can embrace EVs.
So, Effie, what’s next?
The UK is the market of focus for Easee in 2021. Partnering with the right players in the market to create amazing and hassle-free end-to-end user experiences is what we are striving for at the moment. There is still a big knowledge gap and a lot of confusion around the fragmented EV solutions that are scaring people from taking the leap right now and this is where we see ourselves playing a vital role.
The product roadmap is following exactly the same philosophy; we want to take all the complexity and confusion away – charging your EV should be Easee!