For electric car companies, "charging" itself is not a good business. But for electric car sales, "charging" is a good lever; for the future of the huge travel service market, it is a golden key.
"If we build a charging station to make money, we did it early. The charging station is not technically demanding, and the capital investment is not high, but the profit is too low and boring."
Talking about the development of the power station, a gas station owner said it was very direct.
Indeed, as of November 2018, the cumulative number of national charging infrastructure reached 728,000 units, a year-on-year growth rate of 79.8%. But in the past ten years, there has not been a charging pile operating company to achieve profitability.
However, the gas station owners are not optimistic about the charging pile business, but also become the "business" of the car companies.
Before the real opening of the new energy vehicle market, as a link in the service chain, improving the charging service experience has become a plus item for automotive products to enter the market, so it has become an important part of the sales of car products.
However, their approach is not the same:
Some enterprises tend to use the existing public charging network to integrate user data through APP integration; and Tesla's earliest way of self-built super charging station is further upgraded by new car companies such as Weilai and Xiaopeng; As the largest part of the domestic electric vehicle market, the self-owned brand entered the Chinese electric vehicle market at the earliest, and has the closest connection with the charging operation enterprises.
Joint venture "lightweight" operation: BMW, Volkswagen, Renault-Nissan
Nearly 730,000 charging piles are exchanged for the endless spit of electric car owners: there are more than a dozen charging map apps in the mobile phone, but it is still not easy to find a charging pile.
Therefore, the integration of existing resources has become a way for car companies to enhance the charging experience. In this regard, BMW's approach is the most typical.
BMW's charging service ge now entered China as early as 2015. In 2015, BMW cooperated with China Putian to build charging piles in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Today, the cooperation with BMW includes China's Putian, Yiwei Energy, special calls and stars charging several major charging operators. The operator is responsible for the investment, construction and operation of the charging station, charging of the charging service fee and after-sales service. The data of the charging station is open to BMW through the operator's back office.
By opening up the operator data background, BMW will transfer the information and status of the charging station to the BMW digital front-end, such as car navigation, BMW Cloud Connect APP, and “instant charging” WeChat public account. Through these BMW digital front ends, the customer searches for the charging station and navigates to the destination charging station.
Beginning in January 2019, BMW and the operator cooperated to further upgrade. In addition to finding the charging pile, BMW users can also scan and charge the cooperative carrier charging pile through the BMW Cloud Connect APP. For BMW electric car users, charging anxiety has been greatly alleviated.
In other words, BMW does not undertake large operating costs, but integrates carrier data through cloud interconnection to provide users with better charging services. Of course, BMW also said that the main purpose is not to make profits at present.
Similar to the public.
In 2017, Volkswagen signed a cooperation agreement with Star Charging, Special Calls, and Beijing Charging Facilities Public Service Management Platform (e charging network). Through the application provided by the Volkswagen Group (China), users can use the charging stations of these charging operators. This integrated application supports multi-party charging services and is suitable for the brands of Volkswagen Group (China). vehicle.
A few days ago, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance also began to move. Its alliance strategic venture capital fund announced that it will invest in China's electric vehicle charging platform startup, Power Technology, to pre-lay the charging infrastructure in a similar way.
At present, the new energy products of multinational groups have not been made in China on a large scale, and they are also more inclined to choose such a more economical way to deploy charging networks. Integrating the resources of major operators through APP is a cost-saving method, which avoids the large expenditure of the investment and operation of self-built charging piles. At the same time, through the integration of self-developed applications, it is possible to accumulate customer usage data and prepare for further product and service upgrades.
New forces in the car prefer self-built charging piles: Tesla, Weilai
In mid-January, Volkswagen Group announced the establishment of a new brand Elli (Electriclife) to further expand the electric travel service. After the release of a series of new energy product plans, Volkswagen Group extended the work of arranging charging services to self-built charging piles.
According to the ideas of the Volkswagen Group, the new brand Elli will gradually establish a business portfolio consisting of smart electricity prices, intelligent wall-mounted charging systems, charging stations and information energy management systems. These include home charging solutions, destination charging solutions and road charging solutions, all of which will be first expanded in Europe and will not involve China for the time being.
But in any case, self-built charging stations are currently the strengths of new forces.
Tesla, the new force in the global electric vehicle market, has always used the way of self-built charging stations to attract users to buy electric vehicles. According to the latest data, Tesla has established 1,422 super charging stations and 12011 super charging piles worldwide.
Although this is a huge investment and it is difficult to recover the cost in a short time, Musk's plan to expand the super charging station has not stopped. Just recently, Musk said that in 2019, Tesla's super charging station will cover the whole of Europe.
On the one hand, it is a large-scale expansion. On the other hand, Tesla has to give up the early charging free plan. Not only that, but with the gradual expansion of Tesla's delivery, the charging operation cost has also begun to increase exponentially. Do not raise fees to reduce operating costs.
In the charging operation, Xiaopeng is similar to Tesla. The data provided by Xiaopeng shows that before the end of 2018, Xiaopeng Automobile completed the signing of 100 super charging stations in more than ten first- and second-tier cities including Beishang, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, and put into use 30 before the Spring Festival in 2019. It is estimated that nearly 200 super charging stations will be put into operation in nearly 30 cities in 2019.
Upgrading the charging service seems to be one of the missions since its birth.
In addition to charging piles, Weilai has also become the first car company in the industry to do private exchanges. Wei Lai tried a road that other car companies have not traveled. Previously, Wei Lai had announced that the 18 substation networks along the G4 highway had been officially completed.
Compared with the charging pile, the 3-minute power change can make the electric vehicle realize long-distance travel and solve the power-on problem as quickly as the fueling along the way. However, the investment is also unimaginable. It is understood that the investment in a power station in the previous period will reach 3 million yuan.
The bigger difficulty is that the construction of a high-speed power station requires the approval of “two barrels of oil”, the State Grid and the South Network. There are no precedents for approval at the national policy level, and there is no regulatory support. These need to be a little bit open.
Establishing a power station on the highway is only part of solving the user's mileage anxiety. In terms of urban vehicles, in addition to self-charging or changing to power stations, the “one-click power-on” service in Weilai APP is also an innovation in the context of China Mobile Internet.
At present, Roewe has also provided a “super user service plan” after its high-end electric car Marvel X is launched. The plan also includes a service similar to one-click power supply, which is called “power transmission service” at Roewe.
Improving the charging service experience has become a service feature of mid- to high-end electric vehicles. Some people in the industry believe that with the rising scale of electric vehicles, especially the rise of mid- to high-end positioning electric vehicles, car companies will compete in the future. service.
Among all the additional services, the self-built charging system is undoubtedly the most direct point of anxiety. This is obviously not a professional person doing professional things, but for car companies, this is an important aspect of changing the user experience. Relying on the charging layout, the most direct impact is to bring more electric vehicle sales to the car companies.
Of course, this requires the car company to have sufficient financial support, and can withstand the reality that 3-5 years or more can not achieve profitability. For example, in the domestic automobile group, SAIC Group has established a subsidiary, An Yue Charging, very early. Due to the early start, An Yue has a small scale in the charging operation market. In terms of scale, it is second only to special calls, national grid, star charging and China Putian. However, the industry generally speculates that it is likely to take at least five years to recover the cost of building piles without calculating the cost of land.
Self-owned brand: flexible localization operation
The first independent brands that occupied the largest share of the electric vehicle market in China did not choose to invest a lot of money in charging operations.
They are more common with operators and joint ventures.
For example, on the one hand, BAIC New Energy chose to establish a joint venture with the special call, and set up the first joint venture between the first car company and the pile company, Beiqi special call; on the other hand, through cooperation with office buildings, shopping malls, residential areas, crowdfunding to build charging piles And make a profit share.
At the same time, BAIC New Energy is also exploring the mode of private exchange. Beiqi New Energy will hand over the operation of the power station to the joint venture company Aodong. Due to the precedent of large-scale operation of changing electric taxis, a certain scale has been formed in the construction of the power station. The current sales of Beiqi New Energy to privately-changed vehicles Not high, Beijing is its main operating city. At the same time, BAIC New Energy did not quickly launch a large number of replacement models. This requires redesigning the battery volume standard and forming a consensus with other car companies. It will take time to truly realize marketization.
Another electric vehicle giant, BYD, built its own charging pile on the one hand and cooperated with operators on the other hand. In areas where electric vehicle promotion is not mature enough, BYD tends to open the market by self-built charging piles.
When the electric vehicle market is like the traditional fuel vehicle market, welcoming the differentiation of different high-end and low-end products, in addition to products, service is the key point to attract users' attention. Therefore, many auto companies engaged in the production and sales of electric vehicles do not regard the construction of power stations as a business, but as a special service to enhance the user experience.
Although Tesla's profit source is still not recharged, its position in the global electric vehicle market is inextricably linked to its self-built super charging network.
In the view of China's new car-making forces, there is a greater business opportunity behind the high-frequency interaction between power-up services and users. With the changes in the habits of electric vehicle users, the "product + charging + operation + service" model will gradually replace the existing automotive product sales model. In the long run, the profits of auto companies will no longer mainly come from car sales, but travel and services.
The importance of charging is self-evident.