Bart Majewski: Hey, how’s everybody doing? I’m your host here, Bart. I would like to welcome you to a technology and renewables series, where are we discussing the newest and hottest topics in the world of immobility, smart ev charging, energy management and also renewable energy and obviously technology and business around it.
In today’s episode, our guest is Christian Hahn . Hey, Christian. Good to have you here in our visual studio. How are you doing?
Christian Hahn: Thank you, Bart. Yeah. Thank you for the invitation, pleasure joining you today. And yeah, I’m doing fine. Thank you, the sun is shining, so that’s good for renewables, right? So we put using right now, a lot of green energy, which of course is becoming more important every day as we unfortunately see it due, let’s say challenges, on a global level, but, yeah, I’m doing fine. Thank you. And again, thank you for having me in your show.
Bart: Absolutely. It’s my pleasure. Our pleasure. Christian, my first question to you. BMW, Bosch, Mercedes Benz, eNBW, enel X, innogy, Siemens, Volkswagen Group, you know what they do have in common? You know, those brands pretty well, so it’d be exciting to hear from you.
Christian: Bart, you’re totally right. I know them may well because they are all shareholders of Hubject and what do they have in common is not only their strong interest in grading sustainable solutions for emobility charging, but also trying to establish a common ground in the European, on the international market, in regards of EV charging, because we all know that EV charging will become a very important part of our future life. Therefore we all together need to find a solution, how we can make sure that charging is becoming also a seamless service. It’s becoming a very simple service because that’s one of the main requirements, from our point of view Hubject, but also from the view of our shareholders, that charging will be more and more adopted and electric vehicles will be more toppled by people all around.
Bart: So, so what was the purpose of actually them coming together and creating Hubject? Can you elaborate a little bit more, how did your adventure start with Hubject and also with EV, I assume the Hubject will be turning 10 years, today, it’s quite some time. So can you tell us a little bit more about it?
Christian: Yeah, exactly. Bart you’re totally right. Hubject is already 10 years old. So soon we are becoming a teen as well. So let’s see if you also do the typical challenges of becoming a teenager. Let’s see. But the original idea behind having Hubject in the market is that interoperability. That’s how we call the access of charging infrastructure from a B2B perspective. It is best done maybe by a kind of neutral player in between all other companies in the market and therefore, our shareholders have decided to set up a so-called corporate to adventure. Named Hubject, and make Hubject responsible for offering us a roaming service, which is connecting all relevant chatting networks all over Germany, but also all over Europe, because of course, emobility is not stopping at a border.
That’s exactly what we have started to do 10 years ago. And I would say right now we are doing it quite well. We have established the largest roaming network already, and of course, we are now very positive about the adoption and the development of EV charging, because what we are seeing as well is that electric vehicles are becoming one of the top topics in the global industry.
Of course, we all know we are still in the early phase. So yes, we all are facing challenges every day on using electric vehicles. And of course, you all know that topics like rangers, customer experience, they are maybe not yet the best ones, but on the other hand, we at least have solved the question – How can I use all the charging stations around me, and that’s best done by a concept called roaming, which we have established and which is now adopted by most European charging network operators.
Bart: That’s right. Exactly. So you, you’ve mentioned about the interoperability and EV roaming. So, you know, from the standpoint of the regular, you know, driver, that actually is about to buy an electric vehicle and you know, how important is EV roaming for the whole industry as I assume enabler to make it way easier for those drivers to charge those cars. You know, it is like very much important for drivers and who should, why does everyone want to, you know, or should actually implement EV roaming services?
Christian: Again, very good question.
Maybe, maybe I’m trying to answer your question first from an EV travel perspective, but then I would also like to add a B2B perspective. From an EV travel perspective, I think it’s totally understood that charging needs to be as easy as possible because that’s the only way more people will adopt electric vehicles.
And we all know that charging is in some topics, slightly more complex because we all are used to use a petrol station for years. That’s what we are doing for ages. Using electric vehicles works slightly differently than using petrol stations and that’s something we need to get used to.
Therefore, I think it’s very important for us as an industry to make sure that charging is even becoming easier than using petrol stations. And I think we are riding on a good way, but to achieve this, we need to make sure that from a EV travel perspective, I know all the times when I’m going around with my electric vehicle where is the next charging station. How can I use the charging station? Is the charging station available for me? What does it cost to use the charging station? Do I maybe get a better price if I’m charging a bit less or if I’m charging later and things like that. And that’s what we call, call the EV charging customer experience that this needs to be a connected approach and that in the end as EV traveler I don’t even need to care about all these things. I’m just able to use it to consume it as simple, as seamless as possible.
Therefore, I believe that this is super important for EV travel perspective, but Hubject is a pure B2B company. Of course, we are focusing on the interests of the companies who are enabling this customer experience.
Therefore we believe that from a B2B perspective, it’s even more important to rely on eRoaming. Why? Because the market is becoming more complex every day, which I think is a great signal that the charging industry is now becoming a more mature market when more companies are charting the industry.
But on the other hand, it makes things more complex. And in part, we discussed already the way high number of companies play in the German market, for example. So in Germany, we have an official database where you need to register, if you want to operate a charging station and this database is now listing more than 1000 companies.
Of course, a lot of them are not operating more than one or two charging points. So they are maybe not that relevant, but still if you would assume that maybe only one-third of them is relevant, we still have 300, more than 300, companies who are operating, charging networks of relevant size. If you would now imagine closing contracts and exchanging data with 300 companies, only for the German market, you see that this is a super complex topic.
That’s exactly where we see the value of the benefit of roaming, because we already are connected to most of them. So you don’t need to set up relationships with 300, you just need to set up a relationship with Hubject, and then we take care of the rest. That’s something we are not only doing for the German market, but for the European market and even more additional markets like China and North America and a lot of Southeast Asian markets.
Therefore this eRoaming concept is exactly helping to solve complexity. This is then hopefully also ensuring that there is a better customer experience for you to try this.
Bart: Well, you mentioned the database in Germany, but you also mentioned, the US, China and I know that you recently came back from Vietnam from your business trip as well.
Um, so the Hubject solution is a global solution. Right? What kind of markets do you guys cover? If you can, explain a little bit more.
Christian: Happy to do so and before I’m giving the specific examples, I would like maybe to address a bit on the question, why is subject active on a global level? Is charging something which is working differently from market to market?
Frankly speaking, what I’ve seen right now in my 12, 13 years, I’m now able to work in the charging industry is that from end customer perception, the needs, the desires are similar because every EV traveler in China, in France, in the US wants to have the same good customer experience. He wants to get access to the same information, the same customer journey. And of course, we know that in some countries there’s a different number of charging players in some countries, much less in some countries, even more.
What we are seeing is as soon as the industry becomes more relevant in a specific market the number of players goes up. That’s exactly what we have seen in China already. We, of course, we had in the beginning five, six large players. Now we have several hundreds of companies in place all around China who are operating charging infrastructure. We just talked about the example of Germany, but that’s the same situation in other markets like France, in the UK, there is everyday a new CPU, new charging network operator popping up. And you also see rapid grow of the US market, strong increase in numbers of companies because of huge investments done by the government.
Therefore we have seen, even if markets maybe start slightly differently and then they will evolve. When they are evolving, they’re become more complex. Therefore we believe that it’s important to have someone in place like Hubject, who is trying to reduce complexity, which is by the way exactly how other industries are working.
So when we have a look into the. Finance industry. When we have a look into the mobile phone industry, then we see that there are similar companies in place that are trying to reduce complexity based on a platform-based approach. AWe are doing nothing else than this, but only for EV charging.
Therefore, to answer your question, finally, we are active in the European market. For sure our core market, but since 2017, we are active in the North American marke, the US and Canada. Since 2018 we have another subsidiary located in China and in Japan and Southeast Asia, Australia.
Right now we are in quite intense discussions about Singapore and Thailand and addition markets. Of course, we already are looking into the next markets like the middle east. Super interesting what is happening there in regards of charging activities from our point of view and therefore personally, I’m a strong believer in electric vehicles not only because it’s a much better way to go around because you’re producing less emissions but it also helps specific countries to overcome let’s say the mistakes we did in Europe or the US. We have used it for too long time, vehicles, which are creating a lot of pollution that we see in countries like India or Philippines or Indonesia who are now having a strong interest in setting up a local EV charging and EV industry.
This could be helpful to just have a step over the bad experiences we have done in Europe with a lot of pollutions based on mobility, and they are just focusing on, on battery electric mobility and in the best case, even by creating their own industry of this and producing their vehicles, that’s something I find super interesting which we see happening more and more and more often.
Bart: Thank you Christian, So, as you’ve got global presence, you mentioned that your business model is B2B. In other words, I understand that, you’re providing your technology platform to companies that are basically charge point operators that operates charging stations. How does the technology work? If you can, like very much briefly explain.
I have a, you know, I buy, you know, the charge stations, I select a CPO, that will operate this. How can I become a, how can I join the global network of Hubject?
Christian: Yeah, thank you for this question. So what we are offering two main services.
So to say the first service is a key service. So whenever you are starting your own charging network, or you want to offer your own charging service, then we rely on a backend you’re using IT system, which is managing your charger stations, managing the end customers. We would connect in our IT system based on a reliable key connection.
More importantly, we are offering a business framework. This business framework is including all the relevant details you need to have in place if you want to do business with the companies who already are using our solution. So therefore whenever you’re joining the Hubject network, so to say, or we call it more specifically the intercharge network then younare closing a contract with all existing, but also all new joining companies.
Yhat of course is exactly achieving this effect I’ve mentioned before that this is reducing complexity, because what you don’t need to do in addition is to reach out to hundreds and thousands of companies active and set up business contracts that’s already done based on this, business fiber Hubject is delivering. You can also do it for sure. If you have specific conditions or if you want to agree on specific kind of cooperation modules. Please do so. We won’t stop you, but you don’t need to. And we believe that this is super important, especially as mentioned, there are so many companies out there and therefore managing these hundreds and thousands of business relationships is super, super complex.
Instead, we are offering it all by one business agreement. That of course helps you also as a company in the charging market to focus on your core topics like operating efficiently charging infrastructure or providing great customer services.
Bart: Christian on our previous episode, we’ve actually had the pleasure of having Oleg the CEO of IoTecha and he, and I talked about a recently launched plug&charge solution. I saw that you together with IoTecha created the first one of the first implementations in the US. You did a press release. Can you tell us a little bit, you know what is plug&charge and why it is actually so attractive and also very much interesting would be the level of adoption of plug&charge here in Europe versus the US for example.
Christian: Yeah, it was super good questions. So maybe let’s start first with a visual explanation, of what plag&charg is. As already mentioned, customer experience is key and especially a seamless customer experience. We all know that right now it’s still a kind of hurdle, at least if you need to swipe your ID card or your smartphone application, if you want to use the charging station. Therefore we believed a much better way is like for example, what Tesla is doing. You’re just plugging in and then the rest is done automatically between the electric vehicle and the charging station.
We want to establish the Tesla effect but with non-Tesla vehicles and non-Tesla charging stations that’s what we are calling plug&charge. So as a customer, you’re just plugging in and the rest is done automatically between charging station and electric vehicle. Why is that important?
Because what is then happening in the background is a secure communication channel being set up between the electric vehicle and the charging station, Why do we need this? You may ask it. Yeah. Separate reason. We are now becoming a more mature market. We already mentioned this today and more maturity also means that we need more reliability, that we need more scalability and most importantly, more security.
We also need to focus more on the whole industry on making communication channels more secure and therefore plug&charge is a very relevant use case because plag&charge is based on a, on an international open, neutral standard called ISO 15118. It sound, super technical, I know, but in the end, it enables exactly this, that we have a secure communication channel, which is also creating a much better customer experience because it’s much easier to use the charging stations.
What does the adoption rate right now? The market? Very good question again. So we see that a lot of common manufacturers are now finally announcing that they are implemented plug&charge. It took frankly speaking the industry some years to make these announcements, which is maybe also easy to understand because in the past we have focused more on topics like producing the first electric vehicles and make them working properly and the same for charging stations. We are very much focused on installing protocols and make them work. So these additional features, which also are raising complexity slightly, of course, we’re not the core focus, but now the fundament has been set up, so to say. Now we can focus on the next level of charging.
One of the topics in regards of the next level of charging is plug&charge as mentioned.
Bart: So I understand that right now, if I have an electric car, in Europe and I want to take a drive from Cracow where I am, to Berlin, where you are currently, I may expect to use eRoaming services provided by Hubject and have, you know, fairly well, pretty much a seamless experience when using Hubject intercharged network and be able to use, eRoaming services to charge my car. However the adoption of plug&charge it’s still, you know, let’s say processing and it has to be a little bit more time because I understand that what we see in the market right now is basically mature market is maturing enough that we will have those implementations of plug&charge rolling out very much effectively and efficiently within different charge networks and obviously the providers of charge points.That’s my understanding, right?
Christian: Exactly. So, eRoaming is working all over Europe. Exactly. So you don’t need to stop in Berlin you can even travel forward I don’t know, to Copenhagen or Paris or Barcelona, that’s all reachable via eRoaming.
The plug&charge. Yes. It takes a bit more time, unfortunately, because we need to, do some changes on the hardware of charging infrastructure, as well as the hardware of electric vehicles as mentioned most electric vehicles, which are being sold in the coming years we’ll have plug&charge on board. We have to make sure that the infrastructure side is following up on the other NBC right now, that especially a lot of fast charging network operators and high-power charging epic operators. So the ones who are really producing and operating charging stations they high power level, that they already have plug&charge in place. So from our point of view, yes, it’s a matter of time, but it won’t take that long anymore because it’s now going to happen.
On the other hand, you also asked for the situation in the US. Frankly speaking to the US market looks at least in regards of plag&charge a bit more positive.
Christian: Because they are, one of the largest networks already has rolled out pla&charge cord electrify America. And you also see a lot of from US-based manufacturers like Ford, they already have plug&charge on board also other US-based car manufacturers like Rivian and like Lucid they’ve announced plug&charge as part of their actual product.
Therefore, I would say the adoption rate is slightly higher in the US. But on the other hand, I think that’s also natural that some topics are implemented a bit earlier in modern market
Bart: One thing is for sure, exciting times ahead of us especially when it comes to constantly evolving technology that actually impacts positively the driver experience and how we are going to be using electric cars, electric vehicles in general. Christian, two questions closing our today’s interview. One: What are the big plans of Hubject within upcoming years?
You know, we, we see that a lot of manufacturers are saying that they are terminating the production of, you know, fossil fuel engines. You know, the industry is maturing. What does it mean to Hubject? And obviously you’re going to be scaling up your network, but
anything else that you can share that will be very much exciting for Hubject within the upcoming years?
Christian: Yeah. As mentioned in the first step we need to celebrate now our 10th years birthday. So that’s of course, most important, having a big birthday party. Of course what we’re seeing right now, and you summarize it perfectly. The market becomes more mature, which is great to see that it’s finally starting to happen with more companies and more business models and more diversity, which of which is, I think is a great signal to the market.
But due to this increase in diversity, we also see that there’s one topic which wasn’t solved yet properly. That’s the quality of charging. And therefore we believe that, a subject that we already are positioned between the different actors of the market via as mentioned, connecting a lot of them already, we think that it could be a natural role for a couple of like abstract to focus more on the quality of charging, which is of course having different perspectives.
First topic is of course the quality of data. Is the data good enough? Do we already share enough information between each others too? Do we share the right information? Is it reliable enough? That’s the topic where we believe that we could help a lot by making sure that the data we are sharing is more reliable.
Second topic is of course the quality of service. We see right now that some companies have pick a challenges. Taking care of the growth of the market. So still surprisingly, but we see it in our system, for example, that the backend, the systems we are connected to, that they are sometimes are not available anymore.
A coincidence, I don’t know, but most often from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, and that, of course is not a great or a good customer experience. If you want to use the charging station, which is collected by eRoaming, but it’s not working because the backend system of the charge point operator is not working anymore.Therefore we need to make sure that we are able to monitor these challenges and provide support on maybe calling someone saying, Hey, your system is down. Could you please reboot it? Or things like that, or even helping to reboot these systems because of the end if you want to have a more mature market, we need to make sure as mentioned customers have a proper experience.
Then topic would is also how to, they were the kind of cross, cross operator data exchange in regards of rating of charging stations, for example. Because what we also see is that right now, unfortunately, still more of the Western part of Europe, not yet of the Eastern part of Europe.So we would love to see more charging stations installed and in Poland and other countries, and hopefully this is going to happen soon. As soon as this is going to happen, then we’ve believed that customers should have kind of choice which kind of charging stations they want to use. Because we also know that two stations, all of you are maybe not, installed in super attractive places.
Which was okay for the past, because you just needed to install charging stations somewhere, but maybe in the future, we want to use a specific charging station to also do your weekend shopping tour, or you want to do a short break and you want to do a short walk around the way, location, things like that.
We believe it should be enabled by providing this information as well to customers. So the customers have a kind of choice, which charging station they are using. The choice shouldn’t be based only on technical criteria, but also on personal criteria. So that’s something we believe will also be one of the next steps.
Bart: Perfect. Right. Thank you, Christian. Last but not least 10th year of anniversary for Hubject. Does it mean that in September, you’re going to be doing intercharge network conference for the 10th time as well?
Christian: Yeah, that’s a very good summary of the situation. Yes, indeed. We are doing a 10th years of our conference. We have set up this conference 10 years ago as a kind of meeting place between companies we are working with. Since the last 10 years, this event has envolved into one of the main meeting places of the whole EV charging society I would call it. So I think it’s one of the most visited B2B conferences for EV charging related topics.
So we are very happy and already very excited to do it again this year. If you don’t mind, I would share the dates. It’s September 12th and 13th this year. We invite everyone who is coming from the industry with a strong interest in the industry to show up there. We just started the ticket sales, so therefore everyone can join and we are excited to organize another festival of emobility again, how we call it internally. So it’s not a typical conference, but it really should give everyone good insights, very mature insights in what is happening right now. And in the coming years.
Bart: Chris, and thank you very much. We will definitely publish the link to the conference below of this episode.
Thank you very much for your presence here. That’s all for today’s episode – technology and renewables plugged into Hubject. Thank you for listening. If you liked this episode, don’t forget to follow and subscribe. Um, and obviously if you are looking for more information about EV, charging roaming services, visit hubject.com. You have a lot of insights and information over there, and links are going to be below.
Until next time, Christian, thank you very much. One more time. Let’s change the future together. And when it comes to emobility, I’m very much excited about the future.