At a time when it is important to stay up to date with the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting into practice the experts’ recommendations, it is also good to allow our minds to move on to other things in order to work, stay informed on other topics or simply avoid being consumed by anxiety and fears.
We could, for example, think about our enjoyment in travelling and moving around once again.
And if getting around means doing so in an electric car, then let’s use this moment to discover how charging a vehicle can be an opportunity to make the most of our time, rather than a hassle. Technology comes to our aid in this sense, and some people had the necessary foresight several years ago, deciding to create experiences, instead of simply selling energy.
We’re talking about evway, which has created a platform offering a map of the charging stations in Italy and Europe, not just with technical information (exact location, power, type of plug, means of access, card required or not) but also with experiences: where to have lunch, go shopping, or visit a local attraction. All of this, obviously, while your electric vehicle is charging. We interviewed Franco Barbieri, president and founding partner of evway.
What does your app offer that a sat-nav doesn’t?
Firstly, the best of both worlds – we are the only app to map more than 200,000 charging points with its own integrated turn-by-turn sat-nav, while all the other apps point to external services like Google Maps.
In addition, relying on the navigation systems in the electric cars themselves is not always the best solution, because they aren’t all complete and updated in real time. Our idea of introducing a new form of journey came from daily use of our electric fleet and the 100,000 km covered annually in electric mode. The result is a form of assisted navigation that allows you to see what is available around your location at any time. Contrary to systems that impose routes and driving methods, we believe it’s important to give the person travelling the opportunity to discover the area, to enjoy the pleasure of driving in silence and in complete freedom. Every user should be able to drive knowing that at all times they have an assistant to indicate the stations that are available and can easily be accessed in the vicinity.
What does being interoperable mean?
Being interoperable is the major theme that we introduced first in Italy. It’s different from being able to get access with a membership card, QR code or even a credit card. That’s accessibility. Interoperability enables a Swiss tourist to come to Milan and charge using the card or digital payment system that they use at home. Unfortunately, in Italy that’s not always how it works.
Is it worthwhile for a company to get a fleet of electric vehicles?
There are significant short and medium-term economic benefits, but most importantly, there are benefits in terms of corporate positioning, the values the company wants to express, the well-being of its employees. Today, apart from those who do 500 km a day, there is no reason why an electric car cannot be used. The new cars have ranges of more than 350 kilometres in driving conditions for work, not just for leisure. We don’t sell electric cars, but we aim to facilitate the transition, once again bringing value to the experience of change through a platform that manages fleets and recharging across Europe. We partner international companies in the management of fleets to handle this transition, which, if done without considering the preoccupations and needs of those who use the car for work, is likely to be a project that backfires on the good intentions and expectations of management. Moving from a car with an internal combustion engine to an electric car is not just a question of changing energy sources, but also supporting the cultural change.
Why should a hotel or restaurant install charging stations?
Our slogan has always been “charge your car, live your life”, i.e. while charging the car, there is life to be lived, there are ways to make the most of recharging time. To do this, we involve regional, hospitality and trade operators, to provide reasons to attract travellers who have to stop to charge. Fast or ultra-fast stations are absolutely necessary, but not all trips are on the motorway or 600 km per leg. A 100 km trip can also be an opportunity for a lunch, an overnight stay, a visit to a museum or local market while the car recharges. This is where the big difference with other operators also lies – we don’t map stations, we don’t sell energy – we create experiences.
Do you think digitalisation can help?
We believe digitalisation shouldn’t create a mass of digital experts, scrutinising monitors, with red and green icons based on what the algorithms say. We have the presumption to believe that the pleasure of electric driving is such that it sparks the driver’s desire to rediscover the value of time, not vice versa: if spent well, it won’t be the extra 20 minutes that ruin a trip! We believe, because we experience it ourselves every day, that a focus on all aspects of the journey is what increasingly makes the difference. Instead of a simple map, we created an entire digital platform to support this philosophy.