Published on October 27th, 2017 | by Zachary Shahan0
Evolving EV Business Models, Policies, & Awareness In Poland (CleanTechnica Interview)
October 27th, 2017 by Zachary Shahan
Time for interview #5 getting ready for our coming Central & Eastern Europe EV charging conference in Warsaw, where we’ll have EV charging leaders from the Netherlands, Norway, Costa Rica, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the USA collaborating to advance EV charging and EV adoption in Central & Eastern Europe.
My ping pong partner in this interview is Matt Tymowski, co-founder and CTO at ChargePolska. Before ChargePolska, Matt was the commercial director at PROTYM Energy, a systems integrator specializing in energy storage applications (FTM & BTM). He was responsible for spearheading business efforts for Californian, German, and Chinese technology partners in the Polish market, as well as establishing projects in emerging markets such as Africa (Zambia) and Asia (Philippines).
With another Polish EV leader on deck, I again asked about Polish EV policies, entrepreneurship, trends, and technology. Matt provided thoughtful, illuminating, and sometimes even exciting responses. Have a look!
1. How long have you been involved in EV charging, and has the Polish EV charging market evolved over the past few years?
I have been involved in EV charging applications in Poland for just under three years. Most of my experience was focused on developing energy storage–based peak shaving solutions for DC fast-charger installations. In this case, our clients were either aspiring commercial property developers or utility companies looking to put their extra R&D cash to good use.
The Polish market has been somewhat slow to incentivize and nurture the domestic EV charging market. The two growth factors I have identified so far are either LEED certification points (usually Platinum level) for property developers, or bragging rights from utilities.
With e-mobility becoming a more popular topic in Poland, I am sure the market will grow considerably in the next few years. However, the speed at which it will grow is still unclear. This is because the major decisions of whether or not to invest in EV chargers will be made by head offices in Western Europe, not in Poland (this applies to shopping mall operators, commercial and retail property owners).
Regarding the public sector, no clear strategy has been communicated yet, but this will probably change soon. Keep in mind, it took close to 4 years for AMS SA to provide the City of Warsaw with free bus stop shelters — I wonder how long it will take for the city to invest in EV charging infrastructure.
2. Aside from EV charging, what EV business models do you see as particularly attractive right now in the Polish market?
At the moment, the two hot topics local investors are looking at with regards to EVs are either EV carsharing or EV taxis. Basically, California 5 years ago. We will most likely see EV carsharing develop variations of the business model to increase investment attractiveness (e.g., Envoy in LA, rev-sharing with property owners to target a large customer base and lower parking costs in prime locations).
3. What’s the one thing — or maybe 5 things — you wish Polish cities would do to advance e-mobility?
I don’t expect too much support from local governments. Very often we’ve seen the private sector be far more efficient at developing an industry than the public sector. Polish people still shake their heads when they talk about the former government-owned and operated CPN (state-owned, public petrol station network). SpaceX can launch rockets faster and cheaper than NASA and I prefer to have my Allegro purchases FedExed over instead of have the national post deliver it. Local governments could incentivize EV drivers with free parking spaces, but why not have private property owners offer that instead and reap the PR benefits. Cities should create the framework necessary for e-mobility-centric companies to grow, but not advance the e-mobility agenda themselves.
4. What’s your view of Polish EV awareness and interest at this stage?
Polish EV awareness is generally positive. The last few years have seen urban air pollution levels similar to Beijing (Warsaw and Kraków), and internal combustion engines (ICE) make up about 15% of that pollution. The average Polish consumer is aware that EVs reduce air pollution and, when prices decrease, could prove to be a smart alternative to petrol-powered vehicles.
5. In what ways are you improving EV charging products and expectations?
We are not specifically improving EV charging products (bringing technology to market). We are, however, bringing the market to the technology. We are in the process of developing and building a proof of concept for a business model that generates a positive cash flow for investors by year 3 of commercial deployment. The model leverages the outdoor media market and has the potential to become the country’s first profitable, privately-owned EV charging network that provides the power for free. No one knew that you can make money by giving bus stations for free to cities. AMS proved that you can. We want to do the same thing with EV chargers.