To Adrian Săcuiu, the decision to set up Volt company was natural, given the fast evolution of technology as well as the fact that Romania is in Europe and the e-mobility segment will automatically grow locally. He benefitted from the experience and expertise of his brother, Cătălin Săcuiu, who resigned from a good job, engineer at Jaguar in England, after more than four years, to invest in a company that imports electric charging stations and project solutions in Romania. The association to EVBox, one of the worldwide leaders on the charging solutions market, ensures their success on the local market, state the two during an exclusive interview given to energynomics.ro.
The Dutch at EVBox were taken over last year by Engie, when they were leaders on the European market, holding 40,000 worldwide operating stations. At this moment, the number of active EVBox stations raised to approximately 65,000. In Romania, even if things are a bit more difficult, projects will not take long to occur: investments are expected especially from municipalities, who benefit from non-reimbursable investments for 98% of projects.
”Cătălin noticed the increase trend of this segment. We decided to start this business in 2016 when the Romanian market was not that developed. In the meanwhile, we gained experience and we have the necessary expertise to offer not only equipment, but advice on different projects, as well”, says Adrian Săcuiu.
The two needed a trustworthy and very reliable supplier, offering pleasant and easy experience to the end user.
”We approached a few companies, but EVBox seemed to be the most interesting of all. After many groping, we met at their office in Amsterdam, with the CEO, Kristof Vereenooghe, in 2016, and in 2017 we signed the agreement”, he says. Thus, Volt became EVBox authorized reseller.
”We can offer turnkey projects: project consultancy, supply of equipment, installation, servicing, maintenance… If we refer to public institutions, we also take care of the authorizations and approvals part, so that the end customer finds it easy to install an electric charging station”.
At this moment Volt has some local projects in progress, including with town halls and hotels, as well as small customers to whom sales are major.
”Discussions with large companies and institutions are of long term, investments are especially necessary”.
EVBox stations differ, covering a wide range of customers and charging speeds. They can be controlled online. Stations dedicated to natural persons, in Homeline series, cost between 700 Euro and 1,500, depending on the equipment. Customers may select the RFID control and Internet management, and even if many do not select such options from the beginning, they subsequently appreciate their utility and request and upgrade. ”This is why consultancy includes a clear presentation of state-of-the-art technologies”.
Businessline stations communicate with one another and have intelligent energy saving facilities, for example they share their energy from a certain parking so that not to exceed network’s possibilities. The average cost of Businessline stations vary between 1,000 Euro and 2,800, VAT excluded. Public stations cost between 4 and 5,000 Euro, including anti-theft and anti-vandalism options. Super-fast stations close the chart of EVBox products, at a higher cost of 21-25,000 Euro, VAT excluded.
”Fast-charge stations are fit for gas stations, because they have a great charging power within a very short term. A 40 KV battery charges in approximately 30-40 minutes.”
Household customers and very small businesses moved fast, the purchase being made rapidly. Large companies and public institutions, on the other hand, conclude one agreement in approximately six months.
”We are discussing with many municipalities. Customers mainly come from the category of household users or small companies. But we only entered the market in 2017″.
The Romanian charging stations market is dominated by two-three greater players and there are seven important companies.
”The competition is quite impressive. The sale of electric vehicles raised a lot in 2018 and the demand of stations will also increase. From 2019 the number of diversified electric models will also increase”, says Cătălin Săcuiu.
To the extent companies search for optimum cost-revenue options, technological diversification through permanent research programs will decrease the cost of vehicles, offering new and cheaper models and batteries to the market, he explains.
Rabla Plus program was an advantage to Romania, but, unfortunately, in case of charging infrastructure, funds allotted by the Government did not reach beneficiaries yet. Only five requests were approved from a total of 11 stations, benefitting from subsidies. At this moment, the application Guideline is pending renewing – one of the aspects that resulted into the rejection of 44 files.
Fortunately, town halls benefit from a non-reimbursable financing of 98% and municipal projects are more attractive to more players. At this date there are only 172 public charging locations in Romania, with one or several stations, from which 33 are with fast charging, states plugshare.com.
“In 2018 we are expecting at least a double sale of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids; apparently, we have already exceeded this number, and we are estimating that this doubling or tripling trend of the car park will be continued until 2020 when a little problem may occur – Rabla Plus Program will end and we might face a decrease. However, the restricting law on polluting technologies – for example certain vehicles will not be allowed in the city – as well as the decrease of costs – for example batteries will be cheaper by 16% each year, according to Bloomberg – might compensate for the lack of subsidies. Then, more interesting models appear, with better options. Many producers give up the manufacturing of classic vehicles, such as Volvo”, concluded Adrian Săcuiu.
Three times bigger sales
Sales of electric vehicles in Romania raised to 485 units during the first seven months of this year, three times more than the similar period of the last year, according to the Automotive Manufacturers and Importers Association (APIA).
Green cars continue to be highly demanded this year, especially due to incentives given through Rabla Plus program. However, Romanians prefer hybrid models.
During the first seven months of 2018 green vehicles represented 2.5% from the market, more than the last year, when they only represented 1.8%.
Even if volumes are still low, the evolution is extremely encouraging, this year’s sales raising to 325% in the electric vehicles segment, compared to last year (485 units during the first seven months of 2018, compared to 149 in 2017) and, respectively, to 154.5% in case of hybrids (1,754 units in 2018, compared to 1,135 units in 2017)”, according to APIA.