Brand is the king | Plugged Into Virta Podcast

The first EV charging stations looked like massive metal boxes with cables and random buttons. In 2025, the charging stations will look more like smart eye candy than an eyesore. But there is an even bigger change happening: the brand. In this episode, we take a closer look at this trend and what it means in practice. 

Guest: Elias Pöyry, Co-founder & CBO of Virta, Member of European Commission’s Sustainable Transport Forum & Chairman of Eurelectric’s e-mobility working group

Host: Jason Millward

Listen to the podcast here

 

If you are not able to listen, you can read the transcript below.

Intro 

Jason M. 

Hello there and welcome. My name is Jason Millward and you are listening to Plugged into Virta - the electric vehicle charging podcast. The future of mobility is electric. In this podcast we will discuss about the newest and hottest topics in the world of e-mobility, smart EV charging, energy management and the business around it. We will go under the surface and discuss openly about the challenges, opportunities, solutions and trends. 

We will give you honest fact-based information and tell you what it means in practise in plain English. So, if you want to hear insights from top experts, learn more about the world of EV charging and the future outlook, or just want to listen to some inspiring stories from around the world of EV charging, this podcast is for you.

 

Interview 

Jason M. 

In today's episode, we're going to talk about brand and how brand is the king. I'm joined again by Elias Pöyry, the co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Europe's fastest growing EV charging company Virta. Thank you again for joining us. 
 
Elias P. 

Thank you. 

Jason M. 

The first EV charging stations look like massive metal boxes with cables and random buttons. In 2025, the charging stations will look more like smart eye candy than an eye sore, but there's an even bigger change happening. The brand. In this episode, we're going to take a closer look at this trend and what it means in practice. So, Elias, before we dive into today's subjects and talk about brands, can you just remind us about who you are and what you do? 

Elias P. 

Yes, so I am a co-founder of Virta. We founded the company in 2014, but besides that I also have a position as a chairman of the European Energy Industries E-mobility working group. So, representing 3.000 energy utilities from Europe in the EV business as well as I am a member of Sustainable Transportation Forum by the European Commission with Eurelectric mandate. So, trying to build this area to become the biggest way of mobility of the future. 

Jason M. 

So according to you, one of the biggest changes affecting the EV charging industry and the EV drivers in the coming years has to do with brands. What do you mean, and could you just tell us a bit more about this trend? 

Elias P. 

Yeah, well that's an interesting question. When you think of brand, of course, first, you think of Coca-Cola. So, I think that's obvious that the big brands can easily market their services to end users. And while we're talking about the new business, it's the question of who can, most cost-efficiently find the customers. In that sense, I think the big brands are the key players in the future EV charging market, and they really want to create their own look of what charging services are, but there are different kinds. Basically, if you’re like Coca-Cola, you don't necessarily want to have anything else but the brand image and let the users use the service as is. 

Jason M. 

And you know exactly what it’s all about. 

Elias P. 

Exactly. And then if you’re a small business, you probably want to align and integrate with the kind of co-branded structure of the charging platform itself, because the charging platform brings the value to your brand itself. And if you're in the retail business, probably you want your brand to be shown, but also you need to have the integration to end user data and so on. This kind of a deep integration into the service levels and bringing the EV charging business into your service model as a whole. And the interesting thing is, if you look at the market growth, 80% of the EV charging stations that are being built are built by individual players that are not professional EV charging networks and only 20% are built by the professional EV charging network. So, what it means is that this 80% is normal companies that want to take advantage of the new world, the new business. 

They usually build their charging business using the charging platform like Virta. There are then different kinds of needs in these companies on what kind of branding they want. Some of them want to have the full sphere of brand, where they also handle all the end user communication and so on, while others say that: “Okay, we want our brand to be on top, but the service will have to be handled by the charging platform. So, we need your brand below, so the end user knows that even though the main brand is of the charger, the sub-brand is of the platform handling the charging operation.” Like a brand of Visa or MasterCard, it doesn’t mean that Visa is the company that handles it, but there is much more complicated ecosystem behind. 

Jason M. 

You said that we’ll see in the coming years that even small brands will take advantage of the EV charging and fully integrate EV charging into their existing services. So why would they want to start offering EV charging services. What are the benefits? 

Elias P. 

Well, first of all, EV charging is an added-value service, so it works two ways. If you're a customer of, let's say a hotel chain, you expect to have EV charging, but on the other hand it also brings you customers as you can say that you can offer EV charging while it's not that common yet in all the hotels. The other thing is if you look at, let's say hospitality industry as a whole. Let it be restaurants, cafeterias, hamburger chains, retail and so on. So of course, the EV charging brings added benefits, brings the added business, it brings euros as such, but the bigger money flow is in the primary services that the businesses offer. So, if you charge at McDonald's, you have 15 minutes to spend your money in there. Or if you charge at the retail shop, you can even have a 2-hour charging and of course you can spend a lot of money in two hours, so most of the businesses related to the core businesses of this industry is not necessarily daily charging. EV charging is the added value element. 

Jason M. 

And what about, from the EV driver's point of view, what are the benefits for the EV driver? 

Elias P. 

Well, EV drivers are looking for two things: places to charge and places to spend their money, to do their daily errands. Maybe to look for something exotic as well. So EV charging platform combines this individual service offerings and EV charging offering into an ecosystem, where the EV driver can easily find what they're looking for. 

And of course; the more variation there is, the more charging points there are, the more locations there are, the better for the EV driver. That's why these kinds of platforms, which have the ecosystem combining several players in the industry, are the greatest benefit for the EV drivers. 

Jason M. 

As you mentioned for multitude of these companies, for example restaurants or hotels, EV charging services is far from their core business. So, how to do it smartly? 

Elias P. 

Well, the industry is going towards the end-to-end service concept. Basically, with one signature, somebody takes care of it. The hotels don’t want to serve their customers and try to learn how the EV charging works. They just want someone to handle it and take care that it works and make sure that everything is ok, and they get their money. And these value chains that the EV platforms offer together with their resellers, partners, they are end-to-end concepts that allow an easy enter to the business. 

Jason M. 

How does the future look like? Where does the EV driver charge his or her car in 2025 or 2030? Is it going to be fully global - you can go anywhere you like and there's a charging point right there for you? 

Elias P. 

Maybe this is a boring answer, but I think that EV driver still mostly charges at home or at work. Of course, it's imminent that we need a charging network with coverage that helps the trips between cities. 

Jason M. 

Thank you very much for joining us. It's been a pleasure. 

 

Outro 

Jason M. 

And that’s it for this episode of Plugged into Virta: The electric vehicle charging podcast. 

Thank you for listening! 

 
If you liked this podcast, don’t forget to follow and subscribe. And please share it to your colleagues and friends. We appreciate all your feedback, reviews and ratings, too. 

You can connect with us on LinkedIn @virtaltd. 

And if you are looking for more information about EV charging, e-mobility and energy management, visit us @virta.global 

Until next time, thank you for joining us. Let’s take charge of the future – together.

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