Ardenne Métropole – Charge point migration for a modernised charging network

5 min read
July 5, 2024 at 2:36 PM

Ardenne Métropole, an agglomeration community in northern France began to look for a new charge point management system (CPMS) to modernise their outdated charging network to improve user experience in 2022. Read why they chose Virta as their partner for this transformation.

The story

Ardenne Metropole, an agglomeration community centred on the cities of Charleville-Mézières and Sedan in the Grand Est region in northern France includes 58 municipalities and about 121,000 inhabitants.

Creating such public institution for inter-municipal cooperation enables the joint development of the area and the implementation of large infrastructure projects. The responsibilities of Ardenne Métropole include tourism, housing and urban policy, water and waste management, economic development and mobility.

Between 2016 and 2017, Ardenne Métropole set up a charging network of 151 EV charging stations from the brand Nexans. That means 302 charge points (2 sockets per station). The charging network is one of the best in France in terms of public charging station per electric car ratio.

view of the river in charleville mezieres
Photo 1: The city of Charleville Mezières, crossed by the Meuse River.

“Initially, our goal was to equip each of the 58 municipalities with at least one charging station to bring EV drivers crossing our community security.”

- Jérémy Dupuy, Mayor of Villers-Semeuse and Vice-President, in charge of mobility, for Ardenne Métropole

Jeremy dupuy mayor of villers semeuse9Photo 3: Jérémy Dupuy, Mayor of Villers Semeuse and Vice-President in charge of mobility for Ardenne Métropole in front of the headquarters of Ardenne Métropole.

A public charging service to boost the switch to electric

Ardenne Métropole’s primary objectives were to encourage drivers to switch to e-mobility and develop e-mobility in low-density areas where private investment was lacking. In the long term, the goal is to amortise the charging infrastructure and operating costs.

The problem

In addition to the 302 charge points installed between 2016 and 2017, Ardenne Métropole also offers a car-sharing service with 32 electric vehicles available to drivers.

With its first operator, both the charging stations and the vehicles experienced many maintenance problems, with almost 50% of charging stations not working at times. From the charging socket hatch not opening to chargers turning offline and difficulties disconnecting the charging cable, the issues mounted up, shining a bad light on the network’s public image.

The poorly maintained charging network needed to be connected to an efficient charge point management system (CPMS) in order to start managing operations in a different, better way. Ardenne Metropole’s first chosen service provider wasn’t the right choice as it didn’t offer the possibility to smoothly migrate the existing charging stations to their CPMS and ensure efficient control of the charging sessions.

At the end of the initial contract, Ardenne Métropole decided to give up car sharing and initiated a maintenance contract that had become more than urgent. To avoid hindering the take-off of e-mobility in the area, Ardenne Métropole decided to keep the charging stations available for the public while launching a new tender to find a new CMPS provider for the network.
 
nexans charger connected to black car in charleville mezieresPhoto 2: An EV connected to a Nexans charging station on a busy street of Charleville Mezières.

The solution

Following the tender process, Ardenne Métropole decided to go with Virta’s services and our Evolve package. This means that Ardenne Mètropole can play both the role of an e-mobility service provider (eMSP) and a charging point operator (CPO). This package also includes branding of the charging service.

For EV drivers just passing through or who do not want to register for the Ardenne Métropole network, public chargers are accessible through roaming.
 
closeup charging car in charleville mezierePhoto 3: Close-up of the Virta RFID badge used to start charging sessions.

The migration process

To start with, Virta checked the state of the chargers and found a configuration issue that was solved quickly. Only eight charging stations could not be migrated to Virta’s CPMS due to other technical damage.

Out of the 276 charging points that have been migrated, 252 provide a charging power of 7kW, and 24 offer a higher charging power of 22kW.

For the maintenance of the charging stations, Ardenne Métropole has used the services of Nexans, the charger manufacturer. Hervé Thermique, Virta’s subcontractor, replaced SIM cards on all chargers, set up a support hotline, and proceeded with level 1 troubleshooting (remote restart).

After the charging stations had been successfully migrated to Virta and connected to Virta Hub, the charging sessions could be easily controlled and invoiced.

After that, Ardenne Métropole informed the users of the changes and invited them to download the new Charge Global mobile app.

The mobile app in the colours of Ardenne Métropole

Ardenne Métropole invited their users to download the Charge Global app, which allows them to quickly start and end their charging sessions, pay, and track their charging history.

“We have chosen the branded solution because we want to be identified as those who offer the service, while Virta ensures the quality of it in the background.”

app-mobile-ardenne-metropolePhoto 4: Mobile app in the colours of Ardenne Métropole.

EV driver support

The support service provided by Hervé Thermique allows EV drivers to access a call centre and offers effective troubleshooting for Ardenne Métropole’s current needs.

Invoicing

Ardenne Métropole opted for a simple pricing system. Billed by an hour, the prices depend on the power available:

Pricing for 7kw: €1 per hour
Pricing for 22kw: €2 per hour

 
Results 

“The network works very well; it’s useful for EV drivers and gives us peace of mind. “

Based on feedback from EV drivers, the charging prices seem very attractive. Even if users have enough range for their planned trips, they charge at the public charging stations out of habit.

In Charleville Mézières, EV drivers depend more on the public charging network as there are fewer private garages and underground car parks. 

In the city centre of Charleville-Mézières, if an EV driver leaves their car connected to a charger, several hours of charging come to the same price that would have to be paid for parking.

“Virta is a serious company that knows how to manage existing large charging networks. Many companies offer charge point management systems, but only a few know how to take care of maintenance and offer repair services as quickly as Virta."

The future

A new tender will be launched at the end of 2024. Until then, the priority is to ensure continuity of good-quality services. The new objective is to grow the network, modernise it, and replace the few charging stations that could not be migrated.

Ardenne Métropole also plans to implement a pay-per-charge system in the long term to comply with the new AFIR regulations.

charging station along the park-charleville mezieresPhoto 4: The Ardenne Métropole network charging station next to a park.

Smooth migration with Virta

Virta has the technical and operational expertise to ensure a smooth and efficient migration of your charging network. Our specialised team and local partners make the process easy - even for large networks.

Here you can find out more about our services around the migration of charging points.

Ardenne Métropole logotype

94,8 %
charging stations succesfully migrated
 
433
Registered EV drivers (May 2024)
 
387
Active EV drivers (May 2024)
 
17,8 kW
Average charging power (May 2024)
 
224 minutes
Average duration of a charging session
 
 

Quotation mark icon

Virta is able to offer us a comprehensive package that includes their back-end system for charger management, invoicing, and maintenance, in addition to the charger migration. In contrast, other providers demanded that we completely replace our existing charging stations.

Jérémy Dupuy
Mayor of Villers-Semeuse and Vice-Président, in charge of mobility, at
Ardenne Métrople