Fortum and Ensto are providing leading solutions to the Nordic region’s EV charging market. Next stop: the world.
Fortum Oyj is a well-known clean-energy company in the Nordics, Baltics, Poland, Russia and India. The company has 2.5 million electricity customers in the Nordic countries alone. Fortum Charge & Drive, its charging platform for electric vehicles, is expanding its lead in the Nordic market and is already offering a cloud service for operating charging networks in 16 countries.
In Finland, Sweden, and Norway, Charge & Drive has 2,000 chargers. In Norway alone, recognized the world over for its electric vehicle (EV) penetration and charging network, Fortum offers the widest network coverage.
To better connect its markets and to enable the next step in e-mobility, Fortum is constructing the first HighPower Charging network between Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki. This network makes it possible for new longrange EVs (over 300 kilometers in range) to make the journey from Helsinki to Oslo in the same amount of time as a conventional automobile.
But it’s more than just a physical structure that Fortum is bringing to EV drivers. In addition to serving 75,000 Nordic EV drivers with EV chargers, Fortum’s recent acquisition of Plugsurfing GmbH connects its user base of 50,000 drivers to over 200 different charging networks throughout Europe, giving them access to more than 70,000 chargers across 24 European countries. “In Germany alone there are 70 different charging networks!” says Tero Era, Fortum Charge & Drive’s Country Manager for Finland. Plugsurfing solves that problem, allowing EV drivers to move seamlessly throughout Europe.
Although international expansion requires Fortum’s Charge & Drive cloud solution for operating charging networks to be hardware agnostic, in many cases Charge & Drive has chosen Ensto technology to be used in their Nordic network.
“Ensto is able to provide DLM, or dynamic load management,” says Fortum’s Tero Era. “This is of critical importance when you’ve got big parking garages and limited capacity of electricity. Ensto technology enables the maximum charging speed possible for the cars that need them. Ensto chargers and Ensto DLM are what we ourselves use for the 92 charging points at our Espoo headquarters.”
Era says another benefit to working with Ensto is its ability to brand chargers according to the needs of individual networks. “Ensto is good at design and branding.”
Fortum and Ensto’s relationship is as old as the EV market itself. The two companies first worked together in 2009 on a public charging project in Espoo, Finland. Of course, both companies are Finland-based and share a common language. But most important is a shared philosophy toward EV technology. “Ease of use is important for us and for EV drivers,” says Era. “The semi-fast chargers Ensto is making are of great quality and suit tough Nordic conditions.”
Ensto’s Head of Venturing, Juha Stenberg, sees the partnership as a springboard to the future. “Ensto’s products are the most user friendly and advanced when it comes to smart charging. Fortum is clearly the biggest player, they lead the EV market in Norway, and so what we do together gives us a peek into the future.”
Stenberg says the fact that an energy company is behind Charge & Drive serves as a foundation for smart charging. “Smart charging means many things, but it’s important to consider the energy side of EV charging. Our shared vision enables the development of products and service.”
The proof is in markets outside the Nordic region like Hungary, Italy, the UK and Spain. “Our partnership makes it simple for clients,” says Stenberg. “They’re copying our Nordic experience for their markets to get a faster time to market and a futureproof, smart charging network.”
In autumn 2017, Fortum again partnered with Ensto to launch a Charge & Drive pilot project near Delhi, India. Fortum operates four large solar plants and has been present in India for five years, both companies consider it a home market, and both partners expect the network to grow over time.
But there is business to be done back at home, too. “There are 2.5 million customers in the Nordics which buy electricity from Fortum,” says Ensto’s Stenberg. “This is a great opportunity for both our companies in areas where smart solutions are needed. Smart homes will have needs well beyond just smart charging. We’ll need all the smart products plus the mobile applications to control it all. In this sense, it’s quite an interesting partnership.”
The Fortum-Ensto partnership enables new players and new business models.
Just a few years ago few would have imagined that a financial services company would get into the electric car business.
OP Financial Group, the largest financial group in Finland, recently introduced DriveNow in Helsinki. The car sharing service operates in 11 European cities. The service offers BMW and MINI cars at a minutebased fee to residents of Helsinki and neighboring areas. OP has also launched an EV sharing service for companies and cities to use, plus a private leasing model for EVs.
Fortum Charge & Drive and OP have joined forces to build 100 electric car charging stations in the vicinity of OP cooperative banks around Finland, increasing the number of public charging stations in the country. The chargers are made by Ensto. “They’re ISO 15118 standard to enable plug and charge functionality in the future,” says Fortum’s Tero Era. “In the coming years, the customer won’t have to do anything but plug the cable into the car – the ID, the payment, absolutely everything, will happen through the cable. No cards or tags needed!”
In the private leasing business model, OP will finance the cars, insure them, and offer the entire package. The OP Financial Group entering the EV market is an excellent example of how when mobility evolves new players are able to create new business models.
Text: Scott Diel