Bart Majewski: Hi everybody. I hope you are doing okay. I’m Bart. I’m your host and welcome to the technology in renewables series, where we are going to be discussing the hottest topics and trends when it comes to e-mobility, renewable energy and everything around, technology and business.
Today’s episode is special for two reasons, actually. One it’s the grand opening of our season one. Two: we’ve got a very special guest, with me here today. Oleg Logvinov CEO of IoTecha – Oleg it’s really nice to have you here.
Oleg Logvinov: Bart it is my pleasure. I didn’t know that that would be season one, episode one. So I’m very honored to be the opening of the season. It’s a big load to carry.
Bart: Thank you very much. I appreciate, you know, your time here, within the whole series. I do have a question. As a CEO of a company that plays a significant role when it comes to global Evie transition, you must feel that you’re in a very good space and time.
I mean, carmakers are claiming that they are going to stop manufacturing, diesel, and petrol cars. E-mobility market is pretty much right now in adolescence. It’s basically, you know, I think it’s fair to say it’s quadrupling very much. And there was a huge need for EV interoperability and effective and seamless communication within all of the ecosystems.
Did you have the same feeling when you actually have been starting the company back then?
Oleg: Well, let’s put it this way. We had a hope that this market will explode and that we will be part of it. But honestly, first of all, it really is an honor and I would say huge luck to be a part of a market that is heating and near to a curve.
Where the basic line was from linear, becomes exponential. And for most of us, an opportunity to experience participation in such a market comes maybe once in a lifetime. So it is absolutely, I would say luck, fortune, quote, whatever it is, but it also is a number of years of hard work that led us into this market because our journey into e-mobility was not simply one day we woke up deciding, okay, we’re going to play this market. Many, many years ago, myself and a few of my colleagues with whom we founded this company were part of the team that actually created powerline communication. That fundamentally is what is connecting to the vehicles and chargers today. After that, our startup at the time was acquired by steel microelectronics. We came into steel, we actually took our technology and developed a Silicon-based on-set. And this Silicon is quite successful and we are using it today in all of our applications.
And we decided to spin off from steel in 2016 to start this business. But what’s very interesting about it our cooperation with automakers and those who are building charging infrastructure has actually begun over 12 years ago. When’s the development of a combined charging system. ISO15118 standard has begun.
At a time there were multiple choices of what technology to use for a vehicle to charge your connection. Power line communication was selected as one and we were fortunate to be co-creators of this technology. So, this is many years of work towards building technology, and Silicon and then starting building systems based on the same for this market. You can call it luck but it also makes a journey.
Bart: Well, I actually, you know, did a bit of research and, and I’ve was very much surprised, but positively surprised, that you’ve actually been working at the very much beginning of the creation of this standard 15118.
Can you, can you share a bit more in terms of, you know, what was initially home plaque and how much it relates to 15118?
Because I think there are some very much exciting ground rules that were built, you know, back then. It still continues the same concept, but a bit different, well, more developed ecosystem and standardization, right?
Oleg: Well, I mean, when we started developing powerline communication technologies, that was early two thousands.
Our goal at the time was not really a connection between vehicles and chargers. We were mostly focused on audio-visual applications. We were focused on distributing audio, video content around the house and basically internet radio. At the time was what we’re thinking about, right? That was before Netflix was born. That was before we started enjoying Hulu and other applications.
I think it was a coincidence, luck, fortunate, whatever you want to call it is that automakers at the same time, around 2007, 2008, when we will already deploying line communication for home networks and multimedia applications, Automakers started to think, well, how’s, this future will look like when vehicles actually connect with the charger.
The intelligence embedded into the charging process needs to be supportive and was very robust, high-level communication between the vehicle and a charger. There were multiple candidates with technology to be used there, including wifi and other options and home plug game five, which is a subset of home block per line communication focused on the robust technology was chosen as a baseline technology.
That’s how our journey to immobility had begun.
Bart: So, right now, you know, you’ve got a very interesting background and that basically shows the whole ecosystem of IoT, but you’ve got a power line technology that cheaps charging solutions. So, so what’s the offering. Can you tell us more in terms of what you guys do?
Oleg: Well, maybe i will share with you a little of my personal background, because that will help the see, the stage for why we designed our products and services. So interestingly enough, by education, I’m actually a power engineer. I started my career many years ago at a technical university of Ukraine.
Igor Sikorsky university as a school right now, focused on research in the area of controlling power grids and power distribution. When I came to the US my journey broke me into telecom marina, and I started doing telecom applications, optical switches, DSL switches, and so forth. There is one unique kind of underlying component that is common in the energy industry and the communication industry. It’s in the manageability of the network.
It’s a high degree of visibility into how the network and all of the assets on this network operate because without it reliable operations are not possible. When we started getting into the market of electric vehicle charging, one thing that was very apparent to us, is that was still while we were to see helping our customers to build their products, we realized immediately is that we have a collision of multiple ecosystems.
They need to fuse. This fusion point is charging interest. So if you think about charging infrastructure, on one hand, it belongs to the energy industry, right? Because it conveys power, but it also belongs to the automotive transportation industry because it serves the vehicles. It also serves the consumer.
So as a consumer device to some degree, and as a part of a very large network, it needs to be not may be controlled, but orchestrated. So it is very much similar to a telecommunication device. So that is why, if you look at, I took his name, it was a power in it. We basically wanted to fuse the concept of what can be found in IoT world, which was manageability connectivity, digital twins, concepts, and so forth, and the ability to integrate it with the needs of automotive and power industries.
So, what we realized very early on was that there was a gap. There was a white spot and this white spot was, I would say, the pool of expertise and knowledge that will enable to aggregate all of the elements of these various ecosystems in one platform. And what was seen as a struggle with our customers at essentially this integration point, how to accomplish it.
So as IBM was born, why not to take the silicone? Is it weakish? Rapid was the software to create effectively what Intel and Microsoft had done for the computing industry years ago, and the motherboard was an operating systems that enabled smart charging. And that’s how was the concept of IoTecha was born.
Bart: So, so you’re talking about the IBM chip basically, and your platform that you call IoT on intelligent power platform altogether, right?
Yes. So basically it is a motherboard hardware piece that goes into the charger, becomes the brain of the charger with operating systems running on the top of it and a complimentary component, which is cloud platform. It basically caters to three main categories of services. It is IoT device management, including remote troubleshooting, predictive maintenance, firmware updates, all of the things that are typical for IoT and telecom devices then energy management, because integration with a grid, whether it’s a grid or a home grid or the office grid were fleet charging takes place or a grid on a large scale, like as an example of school bosses sleeping during the daytime is it can actually give power back to the grid. That’s the second category of services. And as a last, but not least is value-added services, such as an example, automation of the charging process using ISOs to eliminate plugging, charge, advertisement services, consumer interaction services and others.
So that’s what we build our platform for. So we’d build our platform. We’re not a breadwinner and supply design consumer, but we build our platform to enable our customers, to build their products and services in a very short period of time and with much less effort and more, most importantly, a very predictable positive outcome because what we have built already interoperates with a ton of cars out there, we spent a lot of time and effort testing this interoperability, improving it year over year, month, over month, day over day.
And that’s the benefit to our customers.
Bart: Oleg, you mentioned technology called plug&charge. I know that this is also part of the ISO15118, you know, somebody station. I know that you made a great partnership with Hubject. I think it was 2020 – all interviews and all of the events that you guys do together show how easy it is to charge a car with the plug and charge technology. Can you elaborate more a bit? What is plug and charge and what happens actually behind the scene?
Oleg: Well, plug&charge. It’s a very simple concept, but it’s also a very powerful concept at the same time. The whole purpose and focus of plug-in church is to automate authentication process.
So once you plugged the vehicle into the charger or vice versa, these link communication links are established between the two of them using this power line communication called complex, that we talked about. Well, if we have a data leak, one or two minutues, a car already identifiable through essentially security certificate.
So we as consumers once a connection at the electrical level is done. Don’t have to think about anything. In other words, once this vehicle connects, it’s the same, basically as when your browser connects to internet. You connect as a service and you are already authenticated because there is a security certificate in your computer. Actually multitude them’s depending on services.
So, we can just plug-in and all of a sudden we have a very secure communication channel with a back-office and root CA provided by Hubject as an example or other providers, that can enable you to authenticate transactions in safety and security.
So imagine it’s cold outside, it’s raining. You’re standing in front of the charging station. You plug the cable, you don’t have to worry about pulling your wallet out. You don’t have to worry about, you know, try to do something on your phone with your frozen fingers It’s done.
Bart: It’s automated, it simplifies and secures basically how drivers are charging their cars.
How mature is this technology? Can you share a little bit more the level of, I don’t know, global roll-outs like where the mostly areas use. How people can enable this company with this technology to be implemented in their solutions??
Oleg: Well, you probably have seen announcements from multiple service providers is that they essentially commercially offer this technology. So, you know, you saw the demonstration at ICNC was that we did with Porsche as an example. And as the reason, the announcement in the US from electrify America is that plug&charge is supported by Porsche, Ford and others. It’s commercially available on the electrify American network. You probably had seen the announcement from the VW group that Volkswagen ID 4, this year, will get a firmware update that will enable plug&charge of massive scale. So this is all about convenience for a consumer. But, you know, what, if you think about a little bit forward and you start thinking about commercial applications, what does plug&charge really mean?
It’s an automation of the charging process. So if I’m looking from the point of view of fleet, right, and I need to take into account what I need to do to manage my assets, manage energy distribution amongst the assets, have a very precise accounting of energy delivered. Plug&Charge essentially eliminates human error because accounting is completely automated.
You plug a vehicle, identification of the vehicle is made without human interaction, and now you can basically count the electronics, and deliver it to the vehicle in all forms of equal. If you think a little bit more forward, at the meta charging, right today, we have a lot of discussions about robotic arms plugging connectors into the vehicles or undercarriage or about carriage type of applications combined with plugged in charge. Now we completely have taken human error out and the charging process becomes completely automated.
So when we think forward about autonomous driving, autonomous fleet vehicles, autonomous cargo delivery, and autonomous ride sharing type of applications, plug&charge becomes a very important, actually enabling component of the seat.
Bart: Thank you for that though. One extra thing that I just really wanted to ask you, is actually the part of the standardization, ISO15118. There’s also a concept of the car interfacing with the electricity grid where basically EVs can also charge and also be discharged. It could operate at this scale that basically, you know, eclipses the current and projected session stationary, storage market as well.
Bart: We are talking about V2G concept. There’s a lot of buzz around this topic. Can you tell, why this concept seems to be very interesting? Everybody is talking about this concept, but nobody has seen it yet in full commercial deployment and the effectiveness of the scale.
Oleg: Well, I mean, look, any technology takes some time to come to market, but the reason for the buzz is actually quite justifiable. If we look at what it means to not just consumers, but fleet operators to the grid operators and many others, it’s valuable. Let’s look at the vehicle today, any type, you know it, some motorcycle, passenger car, fleet delivery vehicle, doesn’t matter.
It is a depreciating asset once you purchase it right year after years of value, the price will drop and year after year, you will continue to throw money into maintenance. So this asset does nothing but depreciate and push your money to operate. So now let’s think about V2G. I would like to go back to the demonstrations that we did probably about three years ago.
When we demonstrated the vehicles, that is simply a park at the office between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Normal working hours can generate over $5,400 a year, simply by mitigating demand charges and using energy arbitrage.
Bart: I think somebody has mentioned that when you have. The vehicle 95% of the time, you know, it’s actually plugged in, if this have such a condition and it’s basically, you know, useless. Standing there useless currently.
Oleg: I mean, for a passenger car, it’s generally true to say is that 95% of the time it’s stationary, right? Because if you drive to the office and you drive home. It’s different for fleet vehicles because there is a saying, if you’re not turning, you’re not earning.
But at the same time, if you look at school buses, as an example in the US very typical applications, only run in the morning in the afternoon. The rest of the time, I would say most of the time, unless somebody hires them to do something very specific, but that’s, I would say exclude exclusions.
So yes, absolutely. You know, you have an opportunity to have this large battery connected to as a facility and, you know, $5,400 based on real utility rate in the real facility in New York, California, that’s a huge value. So all of a sudden you change this. You took an asset that traditionally is depreciating and costing you money and you turn it into assets that actually earns money for you.
It’s value. So that’s why things that you so much excitement. And by the way, it’s not just because of earnings and money. I mean, you know, one of the problems that consumers face here in the US is power outages. You know, it’s kind of crazy to think about it, but if you look at what’s happening beforehand, by the way, is the same as happening in New Jersey.
You know, I have a backup generator in my house because when there is a storm or hurricane power goes off and it happens more often than I would like to think, frankly speaking. So if you think about the typical guest power generator, what does it cost to install? So if you’re looking for a 20-kilowatt generator, it will cost you roughly $20,000 of the installation cost and hardware cost.
Well, If I have a vehicle that has, let’s say 80-kilowatt hour battery, and I’m not afraid to use it. Let’s say 60 hours is 80-kilowatt hours to power my home. I basically have a backup generator replacement that can power a full house for probably more than a day, for sure. Right. And the connection cost is only maybe a few thousand dollars.
So now I have, let’s say, as this $15,000 value is that they can shift from a stationary asset that they hate to pay for it, because really it doesn’t give me any pleasure. She’s there because they need it. Right?
Oleg: It’s a necessity. Not something that they desire and they can turn this asset into something that they can actually enjoy.
So now I can afford a car that costs $15,000 more. It’s a game-changer.
Bart: It is, it is. Thank you for explaining this to our audience. We are coming to the end. I just really want to ask you a couple of questions regarding your company. Not far away from now, BP has made, an investment in IoTecha and that’s fantastic. Congratulations on that. With basically the whole global evening infrastructure markets, I’ve read that basically, is set to exceed more than 55 million, I think charges in buildings by 2030, you know, what’s the plan behind this investment? I assume that BP wants somehow to integrate your solution with their product line and to meet their sustainability goals.
Can you share something more about the excitement that is happening within this area? It will be really, really interesting to hear.
Oleg: Well, it’s very exciting for us to have a BP as one of our investors and as you could see from the press release that was published during the investment time, BP has very ambitious plans when it comes to the limit of the charging infrastructure and in fact, all of the announcements that you see from companies like BP, you see a lot of excitement about charging infrastructure as basically, it’s the new frontier of energy distribution for them and energy play for them. So we’re very excited to have BP as one of our partners and investors. Unfortunately, they can not really talk about the details of the plans, but I can tell you that you would probably see some very exciting announcements coming down the pike very, very soon.
In general. What we see today is that we’re drinking from a fire hydrant. This market is really exploding. And all of a sudden people realized that smart interoperable and connected charging is a key to the success of the charging infrastructure. I am very fortunate to say that we have been working towards creating this interoperable connected and smart platform for many years. And now it’s really a time for this platform to become a center stage enabler for a lot of our customers to go to market, to shorten their time to market, to shorten their development time, and lowers their development cost. This platform is also designed to help our customers to lower the upfront investment they need to make and so it was smart it’s built into the system and through the cloud services, do you use apex while the system is being operated.
So we’re here, we’re open to new business. We’re open to a lot of customers. We’re growing and visor. We’re looking for people to join us, to become members of our team. So if you know anybody who is interested in making our planet greener, please let them know as they should talk to us and consider becoming a member of our team.
Bart: Absolutely Oleg. Thank you for your time. If anybody wants to reach Oleg or IoTecha team, I think the email is pretty much straightforward forward which is [email protected]
We’re going to be posting details of the contact for the recruitment and rest of the cool staff that IoTechais doing in links down below. Oleg thank you very much.
It was a huge honor and pleasure to have you here in the first episode. I’m very much excited to hear more and see what you guys going to be announcing with the partnership of BP, but not only, around the space and let’s make the world and transportation greener that’s for sure.
We are all excited about it. Thank you very much.
Oleg: Thank you, Bart. That was my pleasure and good luck with your series. I’m sure that your listeners and viewers will find it very, very interesting.
Bart: All right. Thank you very much and speak to you soon. Have a good one.
Oleg: You too. Take care.