Share your own wallbox with the public and earn a few euros for each top up? This will soon be possible with Wattpark terminals. The French manufacturer will launch a monetizable and remotely bookable model, intended for both individuals and professionals. A good way to increase the charging points and amortize the investment made by the owners of the charging stations.
Great ideas sometimes arise from disappointments. A few years ago, when the network of terminals was very sparse, Marc Lepage looked for a station to recharge his Peugeot iOn. Via the Chargemap site, he locates a wallbox offered by a private individual along his route. Unfortunately, the latter is not at his home and forced the now boss of Wattpark to disrupt his route. From this event sprouted the concept of a shared charging station that can be booked and monetized remotely by everyone.
Created in 2017, Wattpark has spent the last few years developing and patenting its wallbox. With a power ranging from 3.7 to 7 kW AC, it offers functions as interesting for individuals as for professionals and communities. The most stripped-down configuration simply provides a simple charging solution and is limited to Bluetooth connectivity.
The most elaborate adds an internet connection and allows the reservation as well as the remote payment, via a smartphone application. Customers who wish can also opt for an OCPP module and an RFID reader which authorizes recharging via a mobility operator badge such as Chargemap, Easytrip, Izivia, etc. The terminal can also communicate with a parking barrier to allow user access to the charging point.
The Airbnb at the charging station
Thus, the owner of a Wattpark terminal can choose to make it available to the public for a fee. Like accommodation rented on Airbnb, it manages its price as well as its availability dates and times on the dedicated application. All electric car users have to do is reserve their recharge and then plug in, without requiring the presence of the owner. A completely legal operation, because it is a “charging service” and not a resale of energy, specifies the boss of the company. Wattpark advises to charge a rate of € 1 per hour.
The company then takes a 10% commission on the price paid. Its business model is based almost exclusively on this margin, with the company seeing itself as an “ecosystem maker” rather than a kiosk maker. Indeed, its wallbox, sold for € 599 including tax, is one of the cheapest on the market. A particularly low price for a model designed and manufactured in France. “All the components are French and the subcontracting is French”, repeats Marc Lepage proudly.
Build 1,000 terminals per day
The director is enthusiastic about the 10,000 copies pre-ordered in France, mainly by professionals and communities. Another 10,000 units were reportedly reserved overseas and letters of intent signed “for colossal amounts of kiosks,” he said. “Our model is to manufacture in large numbers, 1,000 per day,” explains Marc Lepage. As the current Wattpark workshop located in Saclas (91) is not sized to meet this demand, the company will soon inaugurate a new production site in the same department.
The plant will be operational at the end of 2020, when Wattpark will launch a second fundraising campaign of 3 million euros. The funds will also be used to recruit, with the team now comprising only five employees. Since July 2020, it is possible to pre-order a terminal via the Wattpark website for delivery from December. Later, the wallbox will be marketed through various e-merchants, including Amazon. The dedicated smartphone app will hit app stores in November.