How Ubiq plans to facilitate a circular economy between the mobility and energy industries.
Climate change is the driving force behind sustainability, the mega trend infiltrating every industry and business across the globe. While we can see a link between almost all industries, the mobility and energy industries are inextricably linked as the shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy (i.e. electrification) and shared assets (vehicles, public charging infrastructure, etc.) are key components in both their sustainable transitions. The significance of this is that, while each industry has its nuances, their challenges are similar, meaning solutions to those challenges might be similar too.
Feeling the Pressure
As the world becomes more and more electrified, the demand for energy will increase. This will significantly impact shared fleet operators and energy providers as they are already feeling the pressure of meeting demand under current ecosystem constraints.
Shared Fleet Operators
Consumer demand for mobility fluctuates considerably based on external variables such as weather, events, etc. making it extremely difficult to supply vehicles in real-time. In fact, it’s so difficult that fleet operators are missing out on anywhere from 60-80% of demand*. Couple this with the fact that cities weren’t designed for electric vehicles, and the pressure for financial sustainability becomes even greater.
For example, parking is highly effected by outdated urban planning and infrastructure. Current city design and regulation promotes vehicle ownership, resulting in privately-owned vehicles being parked 95% of the time, taking up space in our cities. To combat this, cities have started heavily regulating parking, i.e. increasing parking fees. While higher parking fees are one solution to help decongest our cities, they don’t solve the need for sustainable mobility options and are actually negatively impacting shared mobility operators. The financial burden of parking regulation falls on shared fleet operators when clients park vehicles illegally. Operators can implement processes to pass those fees onto their clients, but that, of course, is seen unfavorably by clients and the overhead to do this is costly.
Lack of charging infrastructure adds to the complex regulation landscape. In order to manage charging station supply, cities have started issuing fees or towing cars that have been parked at charging stations too long. This is a logistical nightmare for private EV owners, as well as shared fleet operators - especially when considering the fact that energy consumed from public charging stations is oftentimes more expensive than gasoline. This makes for a very unattractive environment to own or operate a financially viable electric fleet, yet consumers, cities, and the planet are demanding we establish sustainable mobility options.
Germany announced a €65bn package to curb soaring energy costs and it’s not the only European country being forced to introduce relief packages due to insufficient energy supply. It’s easy to say that the current European Energy Crisis is an isolated event due to international politics and war, energy providers have been wrestling with supply and demand complications on a more intrinsic level for quite some time.
Much like shared mobility operators, energy providers must also align energy supply with variable real-time demand. Shared fleet operators might miss out on hidden revenue by not knowing where to place their fleet vehicles and at what time, while energy providers are tied to the limitations of the energy infrastructure (i.e. how much energy can physically flow through lines, stations, etc.), the variability of energy supply from renewable sources (RES), and their ability to alleviate demand more flexibly.
Investments in these areas (infrastructure, renewables, and demand flexibility mechanisms) are expensive and so what we’re seeing is a slow adoption of change. For example, just three countries – Germany, France and the Netherlands – account for 69 per cent of all charging points across the EU and it is estimated that roughly 150,000 new points would be needed each year – almost 3,000 a week – to meet the European Commission target of 1 million charging points by 2025. With only a little over 2 years left to go, this is a massive and extremely expensive undertaking. While we all have a responsibility to push for meeting this goal, we also have a responsibility to seek out better solutions. This is where shared mobility becomes extremely important.
Bolstering Shared Assets – The Linchpin for the Mobility & Energy Ecosystem
Replacing combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles at a 1:1 ratio is not sustainable and the studies are clear - carsharing and micromobility offers help reduce private car ownership, they’re more affordable, and are better for our cities and the planet. Yet, as we know, the pressure is on for shared fleet operators, who have somehow found themselves stuck halfway between exclusion and embrace. However, by bolstering the use of shared assets (i.e. less operational red tape for shared EV fleet operations and public charging infrastructure) and focusing on increasing operational efficiency, we have an opportunity to help make sustainable mobility and energy more lucrative to use while making our cities more liveable at the same time. If only there were a solution that could do all that…
Mobility-Driven Energy Optimization – Electric Carsharing
Ubiq’s predictive charging solution increases shared EV utilization rates by recommending vehicle-specific charging cycles based on predicted demand and the nearest available charging infrastructure. In combination with StreetCrowd, our decentralized and crowdsourced service team, fleet operators can optimize and automate the charging operations of their electric vehicle fleet in real-time.
However, by expanding the scope of our solution to account for charging infrastructure utilization rates, we can heighten the degree of operational efficiency for both shared EV fleets and energy providers. By distributing shared EV fleet charging events more evenly across the entire public charging station network we can ensure lower charging costs for shared fleet operators who are charging at less-utilized charging stations as well as an increase in revenue from greater energy consumption for energy providers as more heavily-utilized charging stations become more available for private EV owners to use.
But what if we take things a step further and also consider the impact of “when” shared EV fleet charges happen? Renewable energy sources produce energy intermittently and the amount of energy produced at any given point in time is also variable. This makes controlling the supply of energy that’s flowing into the grid complicated and mistakes in balancing supply and demand extremely expensive. So if you can’t control the energy supply, you have to control the energy demand. Ubiq can help energy providers do this by expediting or offsetting shared EV charging events in real-time based on sustainable energy supply – like an on/off switch to shave or cover energy peaks and valleys. The benefit of this is shared between energy providers and shared fleet operators in that a more balanced grid saves money and that money savings can be passed on to energy consumers like shared fleet operators via lower charging prices.
Ubiq’s demand prediction technology and supply optimization platforms sit at the intersection of the mobility and energy industries because they solve two of the major pain points which both industries face, the need for more efficient electrification and use of shared assets. Sustainability calls for the creation of circular economies and Ubiq is uniquely positioned to facilitate a more circular relationship between the mobility and energy industries. This is what we are calling mobility-driven energy optimization. Together with Wien Energie, Ubiq is currently piloting the first phase, charging infrastructure optimization.
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Ubiq is making sustainable mobility profitable by closing the gap between mobility supply and demand. Our technology uses millions of data points to predict demand for shared fleet operators and then recommends vehicle-specific tasks such as when and where to position, charge, or swap batteries in order to drive more efficient fleet operations. In conjunction with our StreetCrowd™ API, we are able to offer shared fleet operators a crowd-based service team to carry out all recommended vehicle tasks - effectively automating the biggest pain points in the shared mobility industry (utilization and charging). We are now serving around 10,000 vehicles across Europe, North and South America and are raising our Series A to expand our reach.
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www.ubiq.ai *Based on Ubiq's data.