In the ICO space, there is a significant need for projects that aim to solve real-world problems rather than solely seeking profit. eCharge is one such project; not only is it taking the initiative to combat climate change and help provide sustainable fuel for vehicles, but it’s also laying down the infrastructure to do so.
The eCharge Vision
This German company aims to cement renewable energy as the main way electric vehicles stay charged. While the International Energy Agency notes that there were only approximately 2 million electric vehicles on the road in 2016, this number is projected to reach up to 500 million over the next 4 decades.
With the number of electric vehicles (e-vehicles) steadily on the rise, eCharge hopes to provide consumers with reliable access to charging stations across the European continent. More remarkably, they will do so using clean energy, minimizing their contribution to rising CO2 levels and global warming.
However, clean energy is such a hot topic nowadays that eCharge will inevitably encounter competitors hoping to provide similar services. As you read on, you will learn more about what eCharge has to offer the world and how they measure up against other e-vehicle charging providers in the marketplace.
What is eCharge?
eCharge is a hardware-based, ICO-funded project that is working to install clean e-charging stations in hotel parking lots across all of Europe. Their objective is to contribute significantly to the availability of vital infrastructure that will allow e-vehicle drivers to travel without worrying about charging station accessibility.
Unlike many companies that are veterans in the e-vehicle charging space, eCharge employs blockchain technology to optimize their services. This should prove to be very beneficial to the process of coordinating energy distribution. Other blockchain-related features, specifically the cryptocurrency-based payment platform, should also improve the reliability of the various transactions that must take place across any sizeable e-vehicle charger network.
How Does eCharge Work?
According to the business model described in their ICO whitepaper, the eCharge network will provide hoteliers throughout Europe with charging stations at no upfront cost. This will uncap their early expansion, as this incentivizes hoteliers to get involved early on, with minimal risk. In return, eCharge will require hoteliers to sign an exclusive agreement to only use eCharge services and also pay recurring rental fees for each charging station at their location. There will also be an additional surcharge of 20 Euros per use of the charging station, but this cost will typically be charged to the hotel guests who use the station.
Once a large enough number of hotels sign up for this unique service, drivers will have the option to plan trips through these locations and charge their vehicles overnight. This is a win for the hotelier, as they will be better able to attract e-vehicle driving guests, and also a win for the guests themselves, as they can plan cross-country trips without thinking twice about charge station availability.
ECH: The Native eCharge Cryptocurrency
What’s more attractive about the eCharge platform is that it will facilitate transactions using its own native cryptocurrency, the ECH token. Users can purchase this currency on a number of exchanges and use it to book their charging appointment.
Investment-savvy individuals will also be interested to hear that eCharge is holding an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) to garner funding for this project. With this ICO, people like you will be able to purchase ECH at a discounted rate.
By participating in this ICO, you can join a community of other investors who want this project to succeed. In doing so, you can help eCharge attain their impressive goal of installing 1 million charging stations throughout 2019.
The eCharge App
The eCharge mobile application will offer a suite of functionality that will streamline many aspects of long-range travel for e-vehicle drivers. Using the app, drivers will be able to view a comprehensive map of all eCharge stations that are available in their chosen destinations. This will allow them to plan their route according to where they can reliably access power stations.
This application will also serve as a wallet for users to hold their ECH tokens and a platform through which they can purchase them (using credit cards, cryptocurrencies, or PayPal). This makes the process of buying and using ECH inherently simplistic.
The eCharge team has also announced that they plan on implementing hotel booking and other hotel-services related offers in the application as well. This could effectively prop up the eCharge application as a one-stop shop for e-vehicle drivers who’ve caught the travel bug.
Can eCharge Handle the Competition?
The market for e-vehicle charging is steadily growing, and there are competing firms in the marketplace. But by reviewing the following comparison between eCharge and what is likely their top competitor, ChargePoint, you will understand exactly how blockchain technology gives eCharge a potential edge on the competition.
What is ChargePoint?
ChargePoint was founded in 2007 (under the name Coulomb Technologies). This was before any real breakthroughs had been made in blockchain or smart grid technology. Using their service, people can sign up to become “partners” and host a charging station at their location.
Once the charging station is installed, the host can choose who is allowed to see it, how much they want to charge, and which drivers will be allowed to access it. This is a very high level of customization intended to attract many users/hosts to the ChargePoint platform.
ChargePoint also has a mobile application that drivers can use to find local ChargePoint stations and schedule charging services. This makes using ChargePoint relatively easy, even for drivers who are not inherently tech-savvy.
Because ChargePoint has been a successful provider in this business for a long time—almost 10 years—they have the capital necessary to distribute and maintain a massive ecosystem of e-vehicle charging stations. To be exact, their site currently lists an estimated 41,000+ charging stations scattered throughout various regions in both Europe and North America.
This means many e-vehicle drivers are already relying on this company’s services to keep their vehicles charged up and on the road.
Hosts of ChargePoint are based in a variety of different industries, as individuals can choose to host stations installed at their home; workplaces can have charging stations installed for their employees; retail stores can install them for customers; and cities can even choose to install them to attract tourists.
Clearly, ChargePoint has been around long enough to gain a substantial foothold in the business of e-vehicle charging. However, eCharge still has the potential of providing valuable services that ChargePoint is not yet capable of. In fact, the blockchain capabilities featured in eCharge’s network should offer them several significant competitive advantages against companies like ChargePoint.
How Does eCharge Compare to the Competition?
Although ChargePoint is currently proclaimed “the world’s largest and most open electric vehicle charging network,” quantity doesn’t always beat quality. ChargePoint was built on technology that’s a decade old at this point, and eCharge’s use of blockchain has the potential to make it more versatile and financially sustainable.
Here is a comparison breakdown of what eCharge has to offer versus a “traditional” EV charging company like ChargePoint.
Energy Providers and Distribution Methods
Using blockchain technology, eCharge has identified a fast and efficient way to connect smaller energy distributors with a smart grid. If you are not familiar with smart grid technology, it basically means that each unit of energy distributed across the network is tracked and recorded in an unalterable ledger with a blockchain.
This innovative design choice offers eCharge the option to include several services that their competitors cannot. For instance, due to each unit being precisely metered, drivers can choose to plug their cars into eCharge stations and sell power back to the grid. You might think that this has the potential to be problematic, due to the risk of drivers selling off power overnight only to find their car totally drained when they need to get somewhere—but there is no need for concern.
The eCharge network is designed to only leverage your battery’s power overnight, and it will always fill your battery back up before morning. This helps keep the power distribution balanced during peak hours without compromising the next-day travel plans of drivers who choose to use this service.
On the side of eCharge hosts, the smart grid will eventually have the capacity to draw green energy directly from energy exchanges, helping them attract the cheapest rates possible. Beyond this, there is also the option for them to install clean energy plants (e.g., solar panels) for the purpose of selling energy back to the eCharge network. Over time this could effectively allow hoteliers to recoup any fees they are paying to eCharge, further enhancing the overall value of this service.
In addition to this, eCharge has also stated a goal of using 100% green energy sources in their network, as opposed to less environmentally friendly sources like coal. This should help position green energy as the default source used to charge e-vehicles, striking a meaningful blow against global warming.
ChargePoint, on the other hand, operates on such a massive scale that it is currently impossible for them to rely solely on renewable energy sources to create the energy that powers their network. This means that they are still effectively contributing to global warming by placing additional demand on fossil fuel-burning electrical plants.
And, much like many other electrical utilities, the method ChargePoint uses to measure energy distribution is not nearly as accurate as collecting data using a smart grid. This means that each unit of electricity cannot be precisely measured, and therefore ChargePoint users have a limited capacity for selling energy from their e-vehicles back to the grid.
It’s not all bad though. ChargePoint has recently established a relationship with a firm that will provide them with energy storage resources. This should reduce the amount of strain that ChargePoint stations place on the US power grid during peak hours. However, it still will not solve the emissions problem.
eCharge has a specific niche that they hope to excel in: the hotel industry. This means they are putting all of their efforts into creating a company that serves hoteliers well. By focusing their efforts like this, they are building strong partnerships that should grow as the network becomes more widespread.
eCharge has currently launched its service in Austria and Germany—with about 75 stations installed so far. This accounts for almost a third of all e-vehicle charging stations in both countries, as there are only a total of approximately 300 at the time of writing this article.
With the total number of e-vehicles on the road expected to grow rapidly (into the tens or hundreds of millions), it’s clear that the potential for the e-vehicle charging industry in this region is largely untapped. In regards to the future, once eCharge has raised enough funding and tested their strategy, the team plans to expand their network extensively throughout the rest of Europe.
ChargePoint, on the other hand, has a wider range of customers, as they offer installations in a variety of locations, ranging from personal homes to corporate parking lots. This means they have a very generalized approach to their business plan, and do not place too much focus on any one market.
ChargePoint currently operates primarily in the United States. They are beginning to expand into Europe, but may have a tough time capturing the hotel market if eCharge succeeds in their objectives.
eCharge will be founded upon a cryptocurrency that will allow users, energy providers, and charge station hosts to settle transactions with ease. The ECH token will also be used to purchase hotel vouchers and other hotel-related services once the network has reached more extensive development.
This cryptocurrency can be purchased using credit cards and PayPal, making it very accessible.
ChargePoint accepts most traditional forms of payments (credit/debit card) and recently added PayPal to that list as well.
eCharge will launch with a native mobile application that will also function as a wallet for the ECH token. This means eCharge users won’t need to bounce back and forth between platforms to schedule their charging session. As mentioned previously, they can also use the application to locate eCharge stations along their path.
ChargePoint currently offers a mobile application with many of the same functionalities as the eCharge application. The only difference is that ChargePoint has not announced any intent to add the option to book hotels or purchase other hotel-related services through their application.
eCharge: Pioneering the E-Vehicle Revolution
Right now, it may be a bit too early to declare which e-vehicle charging company is the “best.”
Clearly, ChargePoint is the more senior company and has a significant head start in this industry. Yet, it is also becoming increasingly clear that the cutting-edge blockchain technology that serves as the backbone of eCharge’s services will be a true game changer.
Firstly, their choice to create a native cryptocurrency should remove most hassles associated with transaction settlement across borders. In addition to this, the smart grids they establish to power the network will be capable of intuitively managing energy resources to ensure that eCharge hosts and users get the most bang for their buck.
And with a single demographic (hotels) as their target market, the eCharge team should have no trouble carving out this niche and capitalizing on a unique business opportunity that has been decades in the making—since the first introduction of e-vehicles.
With a solid business plan, robust target market, and dedicated community, eCharge has everything it needs to live up to its potential. And, of course, with its clean energy grid built on the blockchain, it is very likely to outclass less technologically sophisticated companies in the market.
Before every goal listed in previous sections can fully come to fruition, eCharge must first raise sufficient funds and build a loyal network of investors, which is the aim of their upcoming ICO token sale.
To learn more about eCharge and take part in the token presale which is currently live, visit their website.