Wattpark, the French startup that dreams of becoming Airbnb’s charging station

Renting your accommodation to individuals for a weekend or for a few weeks vacation … We no longer have to present the concept of Airbnb and similar platforms, because they have already entered our daily lives . There are also some variations on renting your car, your tools, your swimming pool …

So why not its electric car charging station? This is the root where launched, from Saclas, in Essonne, WattPark, under the direction of Bertrand Lepage. The idea first popped into the heads of his father, Marc, and his partner, David Leguide, who converted to electric mobility early on. “From 2014, at the time public terminals were rare and models only had a hundred kilometers of autonomy,” Bertrand Lepage said. Therefore, it is often necessary to recharge during the day near their offices. Many local residents have agreed that they will do this since they took over their garage, but they still need to be in their homes, during the day, to open it to them.

A terminal to keep for yourself or rent

In other words, not practical. From 2017, Marc Lepage and David Leguide are working on a charging station that its owner can keep for his exclusive use or, alternatively, make it accessible from the outside and rent it at times and prices that he wanted, via a smartphone app. Three years of research and development later and a fundraiser of 1.5 million euros, announced last November, and now Wattepark is ready, from the beginning of the year, to market its solution.

The start-up has already installed approximately one hundred of its terminals*, with a power of 3.7 kW, allowing it to recharge at 20 km per hour. Right now, they are mainly in Essonne and shown on the map that you are welcomed when you open the app. “Just click on the terminal you are interested in and book it, depending on the available slots, either immediately or in the future,” explains Lucas Berchadsky, Wattpark operations manager. Then, all you have to do is go there on time, connect your smartphone to the Bluetooth terminal, select the socket that corresponds to your car. Thus, in seconds, you connect to a private charging point. Like Baptiste Ollivon, installed on the pediment of his garage, at Coudray Montceaux (Essonne).

Recharge while in the stadium

The computer specialist, who is also the deputy mayor of his municipality that manages the environment, did not hesitate long before deciding to join Wattpark in conjunction with his purchase of an electric vehicle. “At Coudray, we’re in the middle of thinking about how to build a network of charging points that meet growing demand,” he begins. This includes installing one or more ultra-fast charging stations, close to the A6 that runs along town, and lets you “fill up” in a few tens of minutes.

“At the same time, it is also beneficial to have more traditional terminals, with slow charging, that allow those without one to recharge, and others take advantage of the long parking lot to get a certain percentage of the point of the battery, continues Baptiste Ollivon. A municipality may take care of it, but this option has burdens on its administration. So why not encourage individuals or companies to open their terminals to others? »

Since the winter, the Baptiste Ollivon terminal has only been booked twice. “The service is still evolving and needs to introduce itself,” said the IT specialist, who remains confident. Especially since he didn’t intend his terminal to be just for his neighbors. “Sometimes I do seasonal rentals through Airbnb,” he says. This possibility of recharging the house is an additional service I can offer to my guests, even if it means only charging this energy at the price of its value. “. A calculation made by other owners of the first Wattpark terminal.” Not just individuals, but also companies or hotels who want to monetize their terminals and offer a ‘plus’ to their employees and customers “, Bertrand Lepage pointed out. He also mentioned this man from Lille, owner of three parking spaces near the city’s football stadium, two of which are equipped with Wattpark terminals, thus offering of the possibility of those who booked them, especially on the nights of battles, to be full.

A need to speed up at charging stations

The general manager of Wattpark estimates between 20 and 30 euros the monthly revenues that manage to make the owners of the most in-demand terminals. A figure that should rise as 100% electric cars proliferate. There is no doubt about it, even less as the EU prepares to ban the sale of new combustion vehicles from 2035. ”575,000 100% electric vehicles are currently in circulation in France, and there are “adds around 15,000 per month”, slips Cécile Goubet, general manager of the National Association for the Development of Electric Mobility (Avere). A dazzling development. “The market share of electric and plug-in hybrids [sur le nombre de véhicules neufs vendus] has increased from 3% in 2019 to 18% today, and should be between 70 and 90% by 2030 ”, continued Cécile Goubet. Conversely, it is necessary to set limits. However, the speed of installation is lagging, in France, in sales, Avere is regularly alerted. “Somewhat better now, France is now one of the talented European students with 60,000 terminals open to the public in the territory, tempers Cécile Goubet. However, this number needs to double in 2025 and double again in 2030.

Wattpark is ready to upgrade

In this context, creating “Airbnb billing is not too much.” Cécile Goubet ranked the concept, “that Wattpark is not the only one to develop”, among the great ideas. “Like everything that helps expand and improve the offer of electric charging,” he said.

In any case, Wattpark is ready to lift gear. In a few days, the company will claim its new production plant, near Saumur, in Maine-et-Loire. “This will allow us to move to industrial-scale production while remaining 100% French”, slips Bertrand Lepage. Wattpark said it already has a thousand pre-orders, and hopes to sell 6,000 by the end of the year.

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