Marie-Pierre, e-Vadea won second prize at Innovation Day. Congratulations! Tell us about the service.
Marie-Pierre: e-Vadea is a new brand identity for SPIE: the name in old French is similar to the word for “to escape”, but also has the ‘e-‘ prefix, so as you might suspect, it’s about electric transportation. With e-Vadea, we are aiming to set up and run a network of ultra-fast charging stations for electric vehicles, starting along motorways.
How did this innovation come about?
SPIE began installing charging points for electric cars around twelve years ago, so we already have a strong body of experience in the area. At first, it was our public clients in energy networks sector who commissioned us to set up charging points in their territory. They provided the investments; we carried out the work and operated on their behalf. Later, towns and cities wanted to roll out their own networks, but were unable to invest, and so tendered charging points operators.
Then, two things happened in parallel. On the one hand, we found an investment partner and won the Greater Paris concession contract, so we decided to experiment with this new business model.
At the same time, the French government announced a new obligation on motorway toll companies to install fast-charging capacity across their networks by late 2022.
So, in effect, we knew that there would be demand for a full-service charging solution and had just road-tested the business model with which to provide it. What is more, we had a proven track record both with charging points and with motorway facilities installation. From there, it was a short step to setting up a new entity to provide an integrated fast-charging solution – and then to start bidding for contracts from operators like APRR (Eiffage) and ASF (Vinci).
This is an ambitious innovation, isn’t it?
It certainly is! We’re creating a network of charging stations, focused on end-customer experience, stretching from the north-eastern tip of France down to Monaco in the south-east and Bordeaux in the south-west, and we are now committed to fifteen years in the operation and maintenance of this network.
There were many challenges: handling the technical complexity of ultra-fast terminals providing between 150 KW and 300 KW, designing an ergonomic and attractive station for drivers, setting up the investor partnership and project company, creating a brand, ensuring the carbon neutrality of our worksites, and supplying the stations with green energy. To do that, a project team bringing together operational staff and support functions from SPIE CityNetworks was mobilised, with support from SPIE France and SPIE Operations, including Purchasing, Legal, Financial, Design office, Works, Architecture, Commercial, and Communications.
What is the current status of e-Vadea?
We ran a pilot this summer in Bordeaux which was very successful. Now, the first official e-Vadea station will go live in December, with another seven to follow as part of our first phase. It’s a very exciting time. With e-Vadea, we are proud to be contributing to SPIE's commitment in its fight against climate change.