E•DRIVE, Busting Myths Regarding EV InfrastructureBy Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 06/23/2020 - 11:10
Q: How did E•DRIVE come to be in a market with low EV demand?
RC: We are the result of a merger between two companies, one with great operations capacity and the other with a great value in its services. Although demand was really low, there was a need in the market for the services we started to offer. After 2016, the environmental contingency boosted demand for EVs and Plug-in EVs (PHEVs).
DL: In that moment, people started to see EVs and PHEVs as a feasible option for the Mexico City metropolitan area. In those days almost 90 percent of EVs were concentrated in this area. Today, the figure for Mexico City has dropped to 80 percent as other states attract EVs. However, due to environmental regulations, the market is still mostly concentrated in the center of the country. Another element that helped us to ramp up our operations was the arrival of BMW’s iPerformance program and ChargeNow Program (BMW and Nissan’s joint venture), which supports all its EVs and PHEVs.
Q: What is E•DRIVE’s participation in Mexico’s electric mobility environment?
DL: E•DRIVE is the largest operator of electric mobility services in Mexico. We install around 250 chargers per month, both private and public. In 2016, we were installing between 10 and 30 chargers. The segment has grown both in number of brands and models and all of them have found in us the right solution for charging infrastructure.
We help the industry to solve two main problems. First, we solve the issue of large charging station manufacturers like Schneider Electric or ABB. They started introducing their products into the country without a team to install and operate the equipment, particularly for residential charging points. They usually do this through third parties but there were none in the country until E•DRIVE. The second problem we solve involves OEMs. E•DRIVE helps OEMs to solve the EV charging infrastructure at the customer’s home and to create public EV charging infrastructure.
We can say we are the only company in Mexico with the capacity to offer all services to cover the needs of EV charging throughout the country. In addition, we are certified by TÜV Rehinland, which provides certainty regarding the quality of our products and services.
We have created an entire university environment for electric mobility. Our company’s staff has installed most of the electric chargers in the country and manages one of the few, if not the only one, software platforms for charging-point management. You cannot find an electric mobility engineer at any university; it is a really new market. We now offer training and consulting on charging infrastructure integration.
Q: Who has been a key partner in the evolution of E•DRIVE and electric mobility?
DL: Nissan was a valuable partner in terms of breaking through in the EV segment. Later, BMW helped us to boost not only our operations but electric mobility in the country. E•DRIVE truly believes in the need for reaching electric mobility as soon as possible. Leading by example, these companies have trained their salesforce properly at each dealership, because EVs and PHEVs cannot be sold in the same way as other models.
Porsche has also had a relevant role in boosting PHEVs in its segment. Respectively, most OEMs have a program to advance electric mobility in one way or another. Without a doubt, Tesla was the second greatest boost for our market as it introduced the most ambitious charging infrastructure program. The company installed between 1,500 and 1,600 chargers in less than two years.
RC: Any OEM with An EV or PHEV offering is a strategic partner for us. We cover the entire value chain of EV charging, from charging points for cargo transportation to distribution patios where batteries need to be charged before they get to the vehicles. We are also involved in EV charging infrastructure at dealerships, as well as their aftersales service. We manage an important maintenance program that includes particular elements, including our software monitoring. We are also planning to provide a second life for vehicle batteries.
Q: What are the minimum requirements a facility or a home should have to install a charging point?
RC: The very first thing you need is an EV charging expert. Installing a charger just for the sake of it may be a big mistake; you could not get what you need or expect. A house, a small store, a mall or a gas station all have different characteristics and capabilities for EV charging infrastructure. It is important that clients have an expert guide to help choose the charger that really addresses their needs.
The second step is to understand the electric capacity available at the facility. With that information, we analyze which charger is best, including additional technology to regulate the demands on the charger while helping the customer to increase its electric capacity.
DL: There is also an emerging phenomenon among some of our clients. At some malls, costs related to electric mobility are starting to rise. They have passed the initial stage and now need to start implementing a fee for this service because they are charging vehicles 24 hours a day. However, even if the user pays for the service, it will still be between 50 to 80 percent cheaper than filling a gas tank. Furthermore, adding sustainable energy sources will minimize costs.
Q: How would an EV impact a regular consumer’s usual energy consumption?
RC: It depends mostly on the EV model. EVs and plug-in hybrids have different batteries, so it is really complicated to do a single calculation. A worry for some consumers is that they will have a higher electricity bill. It is true that they will pay more for electricity but they will save at least two-thirds of what they spent on gasoline, on average. Plus, they will have additional benefits, such as car ownership tax exemptions, permission to drive without restrictions in Mexico City, as well as a guaranteed battery life of eight to 10 years.
PC: We do have an average energy consumption rate for most EVs and plug-in hybrid models of between 400kW/h and 500kW/h every two months. That is if the vehicle is mostly in an urban area. It will be really different for each individual case. Shifting from an eight-cylinder engine to an EV is different from changing a high-efficient model to an EV in terms of savings.
Q: What are your views regarding infrastructure availability and EV adoption?
PC: It is often said that there are not enough chargers. There are a lot of public chargers in Mexico. However, users spend most of their time at home or at the office, both places where they can have an EV charger. Another question is the ability to go to beach destinations. To address this, EV charging corridors are growing all over the country.
RC: The lack of infrastructure is a myth. It is true that it needs to grow, but Mexico has 2,500 public charging points and almost 100 percent of them are free. For instance, in the Santa Fe area of Mexico City, there are more EV charging stations than gas stations. Consumers have no idea of that. In E•DRIVE’s history, we have installed more than 7,000 chargers, both public and private. Now we are installing between 200-250 chargers per month, nationwide.
Q: What are the different types of chargers?
RC: There are Level 1 chargers, that are often called emergency chargers. These have a 1.2kW capacity and can be plugged into any regular outlet. However, they rely on the electric installation of the facility. Level 2 chargers go from 3.2kW to 18kW, but the standard is around 7.5kW. Some OEMs like BMW, Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover and JAC include the charger and the installation at the costumer’s home. EV chargers have different types of plugs in AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current or fast charging). The type depends on the model of the vehicle.
PC: To put it into perspective, a 7.5 kW Level 2 charger has a power equivalent to around 4 to 5 microwaves. To charge a car you need to plug in the vehicle for at least three hours. Thus, the electrical installation must have the adequate infrastructure to support 4 microwaves for three hours. A Level 3 charger is a super or fast charger. Level 1 and Level 2 chargers work with alternating current (AC) that is transformed to direct current by the vehicle. Level 3 chargers provide direct current from 25kW to 360kW. These are called high-power systems. Customers must be very-well informed and clear-minded about their needs.
E•DRIVE is a Mexican company focused on the entire value chain of electric vehicle charging. The company has worked with OEMs like BMW, Porsche and Jaguar-Land Rover and it has installed more than 7,000 chargers for EVs and PHEVs in Mexico