The future of the automobile industry is decidedly electric. With companies like Tesla pushing the envelope, the cost of electric cars (e-vehicles) has been steadily dropping for years. Considering that e-vehicles cost significantly less to drive per kilometer compared to gas cars, making the switch is becoming more and more of an obvious choice for consumers.
One of the major remaining bottlenecks in the adoption of e-vehicles is charging infrastructure. As the technology has only recently become affordable for the average household, there is not a robust network of charging stations available for long-distance drivers yet. Forward-thinking companies around the world are seizing the opportunity to build those robust networks and get ahead of the growing demand.
What is eCharge?
eCharge is a German-based company aiming to build the physical infrastructure for e-vehicles to recharge all over Europe.
Such development is essential to encourage rapid and widespread adoption of e-vehicles. If done right, it could also make electric grids around the globe more secure and reliable.
It’s also clear that the market is moving rapidly towards more environmentally-friendly vehicles.
A report by the International Energy Agency notes that there were 2 million electric cars in the world in 2016, a number that has been quickly growing over the years. More importantly, the IEA predicts that:
The electric car market is set to transition from early deployment to mass market adoption over the next decade or so. Between 9 and 20 million electric car could be deployed by 2020, and between 40 and 70 million by 2025.
Additionally, market research by Bloomberg indicates that e-vehicles will be as affordable as gas cars by 2025. They also project the global fleet of e-vehicles to surpass 500 million before 2040. By 2050, it’s projected that Europe’s electricity consumption by e-vehicles will account for 9.5% of total electricity consumption, up from just 0.4% today.
Much like Elon Musk and Tesla, eCharge’s plan is to invest heavily into infrastructure upfront in order to help accelerate adoption of this new technology. As more e-drivers hit the road, the early investments made by these companies will pay off in a big way.
How eCharge Works
The typical e-vehicle owner mostly charges their car at home. Battery life has improved such that e-vehicles are capable of driving about 500km on a single charge, meaning that public charging infrastructure is only needed by drivers when they are taking journeys longer than that.
With that in mind, eCharge views hotels as the most convenient place for charging stations to be located. Travelers would be able to find hotels in almost every town located along highways, making it possible to take an e-vehicle on a long trip without worrying about the car dying on the side of the highway. On top of that, it would allow hotel guests to charge their cars overnight, just as they would if they were at home.
Hotels are incentivized to partner with eCharge because the company installs charging stations free of charge. In other words, hotels are able to offer a valuable service to their guests without shouldering the upfront investment costs. As e-vehicle adoption accelerates, it’s expected that charging stations will become a necessity for hotels in a similar way to how WiFi transitioned from a luxury to a must-have service in a matter of years.
eCharge has already contracted with 120 hotels and is planning to push that number to more than 1,000 by the end of 2018. They will begin with a focus on Germany, Austria and Switzerland as those countries – particularly Germany – are the heart of the European auto industry. Once developed there, more locations can be expanded all across Europe.
In addition to the already active charging stations, eCharge has also developed a functioning mobile application. Electric car owners who download the eCharge app will be able to see mapped-out charging locations, making it easy to plan their routes. They’ll be able to book special deals at hotels with charging stations directly through the app as well.
When it’s time to get a charge, e-drivers can use PayPal, credit cards, or cryptocurrencies to purchase ECH utility tokens. The ECH tokens are then used to pay for the electricity and other functionalities that we’ll get to in just a moment.
More details about the eCharge business strategy and the burgeoning e-vehicle market can be found in their whitepaper.
Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Network
It’s foreseeable that established energy grids will struggle to meet demand during peak times as the number of e-vehicles grows. In anticipation of that, eCharge is building a smart back-end system for smoothing loading patterns by evenly distributing electricity between all charging e-vehicles on the eCharge network.
Given future improvements to battery technology, the same back-end system will eventually be able to do a so-called ‘carbitrage’. E-vehicles will be able to sell their excess energy to the grid during peak times, effectively making a profit for their owners while they sit in the hotel parking lots.
With time, microgrids can be created that connect various sources of renewable energy in a network. The microgrids will then be able to maintain power supplies within their networks during extreme weather events and other emergencies.
Ultimately, eCharge has the opportunity to contribute to a more resilient, sustainable, and efficient energy distribution network across Europe.
Blockchain technology and its decentralized transactional infrastructure will be essential in creating networks that are fair and sustainable. First, it allows for real-time metering of each individual participant’s production and consumption. On top of that, it provides settlement functionality for users as well as other organizations in the energy grid.
ECH – The Utility Token for E-Vehicle Charging
The eCharge network’s native utility token is the ECH token. A token pre-sale is currently live and includes a 30% bonus for early buyers.
This will be a unique ICO in that investors can participate in a hardware-based project as opposed to the purely blockchain-based projects of ICOs in the past. An ICO is the ideal funding avenue for companies like eCharge that are trying to accelerate the speed and impact of innovation. Acquiring venture capital is a far more time-intensive process, and that valuable time would be better spent building charging stations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
ECH tokens will be available at a discounted rate during the ICO to encourage investment in order to build the eCharge platform as quickly as possible. Funds will be used to cover the large upfront costs of building hundreds of charging stations, leading to more potential user adoption with each additional location.
On top of the functionality mentioned in the above sections, the ECH token also serves as a means of growing the eCharge network by allowing users to gift or send tokens to friends and acquaintances. This will be done through an ERC20 token wallet integrated into the mobile app.
One last important feature of ECH tokens is that they can be ‘burned’. Whenever an ECH token is spent, it will be ‘burned’ by a smart contract so that it can never be spent again. As a result, the supply of ECH tokens will be deflationary, leading to rising value over time as the demand for eCharge products and services increases.
Early adopters of cryptocurrencies and e-vehicles have a lot in common. They are typically forward-thinking and tech-savvy, with a hope that they can play some small role in bringing about a better future.
eCharge has managed to bring the two communities together with their innovative project – now it’s simply a matter of continuing the work to build robust grids of charging stations across Europe.
For more information about eCharge and to participate in the ECH token pre-sale, go to http://echarge.io/. A more detailed description of the company’s market analysis and business model can be found in their whitepaper. To interact with the eCharge community, join them on Telegram.