“Reliability is the most important thing in this business and Virta platform is really reliable”

SWISS FORERUNNER IN EV CHARGING CHOSE VIRTA PLATFORM

Virta turnkey solution enabled Swisscharge to create a new business with their own brand without large investments.

Albert Lehmann became an e-mobility forerunner in Switzerland by accident. He didn’t know he was bound to become an operator for electric vehicle charging network when he was seeking for charging poles with new features for his electricity installation family business in 2014.

Mere two years later, the Swisscharge network run by Lehmann is one of the strongest players in the EV charging business market in Switzerland. They already have a solid foothold in the German-speaking part of Switzerland with some 60 charging stations. Their business is expanding fast.

“By the end of 2016 we are aiming to have nearly 100 hundred charging stations covering the East and South of Switzerland and next year we are focusing on the French-speaking areas of the country. Our business plan is to open 700 charging points within the next four years”, says Lehmann.

Interesting market model

What happened?

When Lehmann was studying the modern charging points in 2014, a business contact told him about user identification and payment systems, which are the smart features, which enable providing charging services for electric vehicles. Most importantly, Lehmann realized that one, not so distant day this would be a business area of its own, with a massive potential. He got fascinated. The contact introduced him to Virta team and Lehmann got impressed.

“I studied deeper the solutions on the market and I found out that Virta had the best one as well as the best-looking user applications”, Lehmann says. “In addition, I thought their open business model was interesting and suitable to implement to Switzerland.”

As a result, Swisscharge became Virta’s first international customer in late 2014.

Virta technology with Swisscharge look and feel

Albert Lehmann decided to choose Virta’s whitelabel solution: Swisscharge brand was created, and it runs on Virta’s platform.

“For a small private company player like us, Virta’s open cooperation model was the only way to enter the business. Their turnkey solution is one of the most complete ones in the market but it did not require huge investments from us. And we appreciated the possibility to create our own brand”, says Lehmann.

Lehmann entered the market in the right time. The e-mobility boom is just now really picking up momentum in Switzerland and Swisscharge has built a good position in the market. Majority of their customers are small and medium sized enterprises, local energy utilities as well as retail chains who want to complement their service portfolio with EV charging.

“We are a small and agile player so SME-sized counterparts are in our focus: In general, they are fast to make decisions and easy to work with”, Lehmann says. “Currently there is a lot of interest towards installing new chargers in this segment which of course helps us to win new projects.”

Reliable future-proof platform

Lehmann sees that EV charging for real estates will be the next big hit: Currently lots of real estate companies are looking for suitable solutions. As Virta has already launched theirs in Finland, Swisscharge has an extremely valuable cutting edge. Lehmann says that in many ways Virta’s solution is ahead of competitors.

“For instance, the discussion about frequency based regulation has only started in Switzerland – but Virta has already developed this feature. Same thing goes for dynamic load balancing – Virta’s platform is already now to implement it.“, Lehmann says.

“In general, we can say we are quite satisfied with Virta. Reliability is the most important thing in this business, and their platform is really reliable. As we are creating the market together, we appreciate how Virta reacts to our needs: When we need new features, Virta develops them really fast.”

What is the future outlook for emobility in Switzerland and Swisscharge’s place in it?

“Eventually there is room for 2-3 players and we will be one of them”, Lehmann estimates. “Virta’s platform is definitely one of the winning solutions.”

Swisscharge facts

  • Founded in 2014 by Albert Lehmann, owner of a electricity installation family business
  • Whitelabel solution: uses Virta turnkey charging business service with own brand
  • Operates mainly in German-speaking area of Switzerland
  • Currently 58 fast chargers , by the end of the year nearly 100 operating chargers