In the “ Start-up-Check! “We regularly examine the business models of start-ups. Who is behind the company? What makes the start-up so special and what is there to criticize? Today: ChargeX.
Start-ups. That sounds like inventiveness, future technologies, new markets. But in reality, many of the start-ups unfortunately often turn out to be a mixture of an e-commerce idea, haphazard founders and shaky future prospects.
They certainly exist: the pioneers who tinker with the big problems and revolutionize business models. Finding and presenting these is the task of the Start-up-Check format. Today: ChargeX from Munich.
Who is ChargeX?
The need for charging options for electric cars is increasing continuously. This applies to fleet operators, car dealers, large companies, hotels and parking garages. But of course also for private households.
Charging stations usually have to be cabled in a complex manner. They are also very expensive. It becomes particularly difficult if several parties want to charge their vehicle at the same time. Because then it can happen that the power grid is quickly overloaded.
ChargeX from Munich has developed an intelligent solution with the so-called Aqueduct that solves this problem. The system consists of a modular, expandable charging station that works like a multiple socket and automatically distributes the charge with a time delay.
The vehicles are thus infected. The integrated load management then controls the charging process over a longer period of time. Behind the start-up are Tobias Wagner, Michael Masnitza and Johannes Engeln, who started developing their charging station concept in 2017.
The idea itself arose from everyday life with an electric car. For example, there were very few charging points available at a previous employer. An expansion would have been very expensive and time-consuming.
The founders were convinced that they would not be the first to face this problem. From the idea of developing a kind of multiple socket for e-cars, today’s Aqueduct was created after several prototypes.
ChargeX has already applied for a patent for the system. However, so far the confirmation is missing. According to the founders, the product itself has been in use since mid-2019. The cost: 3,999 euros for the starter kit consisting of four modules. An expansion module is available for 999 euros.
In August 2020, the founders had already sold 300 modules. Thus they were able to generate almost 350,000 euros in sales. A calibration-compliant Pro version can currently also be pre-ordered.
The Aqueduct is also well received by automobile sizes. In 2018, the founders successfully completed their first station at the Gläserne Manufaktor in Dresden, the Volkswagen Group’s incubator.
The young company’s idea was first put into practice at the Volkswagen site there. At the same time, the start-up concluded a business angel round with a mid-six-figure sum.
At the end of August 2020, ChargeX took part in the TV show ” Die Höhle der Löwen “. Unfortunately, the start-up was unable to negotiate a deal there due to the lack of a patent.
However, interested parties can currently participate in an ongoing crowd funding campaign on the online portal Green Rocket. So far, 720,800 euros have been collected here.
In the next five years, the founders plan to scale their charging solution and install charging points across the board. ChargeX should develop into the leading provider of flexible charging infrastructure that charges electric cars in harmony with the power grid.
What does ChargeX do?
With the Aqueduct, ChargeX provides the first modular complete system for setting up several charging points for electric cars – while relieving the load on the power grid and exactly where there is actually a need.
ChargeX also offers a digital intelligent assistant for load management. This determines the needs of each driver and distributes the charging time of the e-cars accordingly.
So if three colleagues want to charge their vehicles in the underground car park of their office complex, but they have different working hours and routes, the system determines the charging requirement and distributes the electricity so that everyone can get to their destination without any problems.
What makes ChargeX so special?
To put the system into operation, all you need is a connection to the house supply. The electrician only installs the starter module. The expansion modules can be integrated without specialist knowledge.
The plug-and-play principle avoids the lengthy installation process and the laying of cables from the main line to each individual wallbox.
The integrated safety system ensures that there is no overload of the power grid. Another advantage: If a module is defective, only this device has to be replaced. The system itself continues to run without failures.
Load management is optimized by loading according to individual needs. That means: more cars can be charged per connection than with conventional solutions.
Depending on the power grid and which vehicle should drive again when, the electricity is distributed to the individual vehicles over the time available until departure.
The system is also self-learning and recognizes potential for modular expansion. It thus supports customers in assessing future needs.
Each user can also receive an individual charging pass on request. He is then authorized to start the charging process. Users can also store further information about the vehicle and the charging profile. The charged energy is billed automatically in the background.
With the so-called Priority Pass, customers benefit from a range of around 100 kilometers (20 kilowatt hours). These are given priority in the electric car. The process can be repeated up to five times.
The Charging Assistant, which should be available from the end of 2020, supports customers on longer journeys or special departure times. It not only shows the current amount of energy, but also helps with route planning.
Are there any points of criticism?
ChargeX definitely has great potential. On the one hand, the global market for charging infrastructures is valued at around 4.5 billion euros this year. 2025 even with 16 billion euros.
On the other hand, controlled charging over several hours is ideal for use at airports, Park & Ride car parks, in shopping centers or large companies. So it’s no wonder that the ChargeX team has already won over major customers such as Volkswagen, Thüga and Veolia.
However, you have to take into account that only one vehicle is charged at a time. This is due to the usual capacity of the main connection. The real limiting factor in the system is time. If enough time is available for the charges, eight charges are also possible.
Aqueduct should also be around 50 percent cheaper than the competition. What sounds good at first, can be seen in relative terms, however, as the price ranges of the wallboxes are very large – depending on their functionality.
Of course, companies still benefit because, compared to other manufacturers, they avoid the high and complex initial investments thanks to the modular concept. There are further plus points, as the system can be expanded as required.
With their innovative smart charging concept, the three founders want to actively shape the energy transition, reduce emissions in the transport sector and make the electric car accessible to everyone with a comprehensive charging infrastructure.
They follow the motto: Every parking space is at some point a loading space. That alone deserves a big thumbs up.
I keep my fingers crossed for ChargeX that they can build on their previous success in the future and thus make a valuable contribution to our environment. And of course it remains to be hoped that their concept will soon be patented.