Obstacles to the breakthrough of electric cars are falling one after another
For many years, the main obstacles to the introduction of electric cars have been the high cost and low range of cars as well as the lack of chargers. By 2022, there will be essentially none of them left, because thanks to charging options made available in apartment buildings, it will be possible to charge vehicles in a private parking space.
Enefit Volt has been providing complete charging solutions for apartment buildings from the end of 2021. While the readiness for charging became mandatory for new buildings this spring, Enefit Volt has developed a smart, future-proof and affordable solution for already built but still new or not so new apartment buildings that satisfies the current and future needs of the residents.
Smart and future-proof charging for apartment buildings
According to Kert Pääbo, Business Development Manager at Enefit Volt, it is not necessary to spend thousands of euros to increase the connection capacity of apartment buildings, as charging is controlled by a flexible load control system that uses only the free power of the building. Users can choose a suitable charging time and hours with cheaper electricity prices through the smartphone application.
“By establishing a charging readiness for the building in a comprehensive manner, both current and future users of electric cars can be added to it without additional investments for the association,” Pääbo said. “Residents can conveniently and cheaply buy or rent a charger and manage it through the smartphone application. Enefit Volt takes care of the design, construction, maintenance and other needs of the charging solution, eliminating the need for the residents and associations to spend extra time and money.”
Creating charging facilities in apartment buildings is critical for a clean transport breakthrough, as up to 90% of all charging takes place at home or at work, and most people live in apartment buildings.
It is possible to drive a whole week with one charge
According to Toomas Pärna, Manager of Audi Tallinn, users of electric cars do not have to worry about the battery being 100% full by morning, because the driving range has become so wide that the car can be used for days without recharging.
“It is possible to drive a whole week with one charge. Modern electric cars have a driving range of 400 and even more than 500 kilometres. An average user usually drives 50-100 kilometres a day, often even less,” Pärna explained. “So you don't need to fully charge the battery every day, but you can do it with smart chargers at the time and place that makes the most sense.”
It is wise for apartment buildings to develop readiness for charging at once and cleverly, because the price of silly solutions is high both for the residents of the building and for society as a whole. This would mean a costly increase of connection capacity for the apartment building and significantly higher network fees for all consumers.
“In theory, chargers can be installed in the parking lot of an apartment building in a non-smart way, but in practice, only four or five electric cars charged at rush hour would be enough to create an overload. That is why we install a smart electrical switchboard for the chargers together with the Enefit Volt solution, directing only free power to charging. In this way, instead of four or five cars, it is possible to charge 40-50 cars without additional costs,” Pääbo illustrated.
Choosing an electric car is wise
For electric car users, a few dozen extra seconds are added to everyday tasks, because when they get home, all they have to do is connect the charging cable and select the desired charging time from the mobile app. The rest is taken care of by the Enefit Volt software. The bonus is a warm and snow-free car on a winter morning, as most electric cars sold in the Nordic countries are equipped with a preheater or heat pump, allowing to warm up the car for the desired time without consuming the battery.
An important innovation is the possibility to rent a charger with affordable monthly payments, which means that only the installation fee has to be paid while the smart charger, the related mobile application and maintenance are all included in a single monthly fee.
Despite charging becoming more accessible than ever before, the biggest hurdle tends to be the price of cars and the cost of their maintenance. Calculations made by Enefit Volt show that if the annual mileage of an electric car is more than 20,000 kilometers, it is reasonable due to the lower price of fuel (electricity) and significantly lower maintenance costs already today. Especially if purchase support for electric cars that the Estonian state has promised to continue can be used. At the same time, the prices of a vehicle with an electric motor and a vehicle with an internal combustion engine are converging.
“While in 2015, the price difference between a car with an electric motor and a car with an internal combustion engine was 55%, then in 2019, it was already 32%, and if we further look at this sequence, the prices will equal in a few years,” Pärna said. “Electric cars have come to stay, as evidenced by the fact that all car manufacturers are investing billions to increase their production capacity, and the range of models is growing by tens if not hundreds of cars every year.”
Businesses are helping to increase the public charging network
According to Pärna, the feedback from buyers of electric cars has been only positive so far. The quiet and enjoyable driving experience and dynamics deserve the greatest praise.
“The torque of an electric car is such that no car with an internal combustion engine can compete,” Pärna said. “Maintenance costs deserve to be mentioned separately. Norway has the most experience in selling and utilizing electric cars, and it has a serious problem with service workers, as after-sales turnovers have fallen by 50%. This means that it is twice as cheap to maintain an electric car. There is no need to change the oil, even the brake pads wear less since the electric motor brakes effectively on its own.”
The public charging network in Estonia has evolved strongly in recent years. The Enefit Volt network alone has almost 190 chargers, but businesses can also make a significant contribution to their availability. For example, Audi has installed two 22kW semi-fast chargers with four charging cables to its showroom parking lot in Rocca al Mare, Tallinn, in addition to the fast charger purchased to charge its demo cars. The next step is to install an ultra-fast charger that can be used by Audi’s customers as well as all other electric car owners in the Enefit Volt network.