Expert Talk – Electric vehicles, and a couple of hobgoblins

What came first? The e-car, the e-charging station or the e-driver? Dr. Michael-Viktor Fischer, CEO of SMATRICS, talks about the chicken-and-egg problem of electric mobility and the hurdles that must be overcome for the industry in order to sustainably move forward.

 

Michael-Viktor FischerWhat do you think the market potential is for electric vehicles over the next few years, both domestically and internationally?

Michael-Viktor Fischer: The transport industry is among the biggest sources of greenhouse gases in Austria, and the emissions increase every year. Electrical vehicles (EV) carry the hope of a significant reduction in traffic greenhouse gases. Since the ambitious CO2 targets that are supposed to apply as of 2021 cannot be achieved with conventional drives – and this could potentially result in billions of penalties – manufacturers are successively bringing more and more EV models onto the market. Some manufacturers, including Smart and the new Volvo e-brand Polestar, are even basing their entire strategy on electric mobility and won’t produce combustion vehicles anymore. By 2025, 30–35% of all new vehicle registrations in the European Union will be for electric cars.

Which countries are particularly worth looking at in terms of electric mobility?

Michael-Viktor Fischer: Pioneers in Europe certainly include the Scandinavian countries, but meanwhile, other EU member states are there as well. Austria is at the top, in the upper quarter, for new registrations. Currently, a distinct west-east divide is apparent among the registrations. The portion of e-cars in Romania and Bulgaria, for instance, is still very small, while Hungary is working hard in this area.

Which companies are giving the topic of electric mobility particular attention?

Michael-Viktor Fischer: Basically, using electric mobility is interesting for all companies, and the portion of companies with EVs in their fleet is a constantly growing. These companies benefit from optimized costs, an improved corporate image and a huge tax relief.

Companies that want to offer their customers smart charging stations, such as stores, gas stations or real estate operators, are very interested in EV solutions as well.

From your point of view, what are the biggest stumbling blocks to an EV future?

Michael-Viktor Fischer: There are good electric vehicles for every price class now. And manufacturers have a lot of new models coming out in the near future, which is also making faster delivery possible. But many people are still not properly considering EVs because they see the drivable distances and charging speed as hobgoblins. There’s no reason for this because the cars are reaching increasingly further distances (currently about 400 real km or more), and we have started building charging stations with up to 350 kW charging capacity that allows cars to store hundreds of miles in just a few minutes.

What role do the e-charging stations play? How is the complete coverage guaranteed?

Michael-Viktor Fischer: Most charging is done at home from the wall boxes. Charging at work is becoming increasingly important because the vehicles sit there for many hours unused. The public network is still an important factor in driving longer distances as well, or quickly recharging in between times. Charging stations are relevant everywhere that people leave their vehicles parked for a longer period of time (cinemas, shopping malls, fitness centers, hotels, etc.).

What about paying? What are the challenges here? What solutions are already available and how are they accepted?

Michael-Viktor Fischer: SMATRICS has always been a pioneer when it comes to payment. Our users pay using the smartphone app, either with direct debit or conveniently with a credit card. We offer billing solutions for companies according to different user groups, each with their own rates and invoicing periods. If desired, we can handle everything up to invoicing the user (on behalf of the respective company) – the corporate customer doesn’t have to worry about anything.

 

Statement:

SMATRICS provides companies with all-round solution packages. We cover the entire field of electric mobility from planning, approval and construction of charging infrastructure to operation and billing.