Electric car charging - Image by Sabine Kroschel from PixabayBICS has announced a new partnership with ENGIE Vianeo. Engie Vianeo is the EV charging business, launched by global energy company ENGIE Group in June 2023. BICS is providing its communications network to connect stations to the internet, SIM cards and its SIM for Things platform.

The partnership will enable ENGIE Vianeo to have a real-time view of its charging stations. The ability will enable remote maintenance or inform decision-making around their condition and usage. BICS will provide the connectivity and secure IoT platform to support the ENGIE Vianeo rollout plans across Europe.

Historically, Vianeo has used a black box to collate data at each station. However, these required a physical presence in order to download the data for later analyses. The BICS IoT solution will give ENGIE Vianeo real-time updates on what is happening at each EV Charging point, its usage and whether it needs maintenance.

Once rolled out, the new approach will decrease the number of maintenance visits to charging stations. As they will only need to be visited when a fault is detected. This means less downtime for a faulty station and better revenues. The data collected also enables the firm to determine whether a charging station is overused and may, therefore, need to be supplemented by another.

In the future, these variations of usage might signal that an alternate charging station is charging more cars because of convenience or pricing. This information will be useful as the market becomes more crowded.

The EU agreed to a commitment by each country to have more charging stations on each route from 2025 onward to support the growth of EVs. From 2025, recharging stations of at least 150kW for cars and vans need to be installed every 60 km along the EU’s main transport corridors. There are additional requirements for heavy-duty vehicle charging stations as well. ENGIE Vianeo recently announced that it is partnering with APRR. This is to deploy 5 very high-power charging stations on the route between Paris and Lyon.

Meeting consumer demand

More and more people are buying an electric vehicle. With legislation across Europe ensuring that EVs will replace combustion engines over time. In 2023, car registrations reached nearly 3.2 million. In Germany, over half a million new battery electric cars were registered in 2023; 18% of total car sales were electric and another 6% hybrid. That trend will only continue. But there needs to be a charging network in place to cope with the increasing demand.

With access to the new data, ENGIE Vianeo will also provide more insights to customers via its mobile application. Launched in 2023 and currently available in French and English, it currently provides locations of stations and the optimal route to get there. In the future, users will be able to see which chargers are available. They will also see the charging status of their vehicles. This brings it more in line with the app provided by Monta. The better-informed customers are, the more likely they are to use the ENGIE Vianeo network. ENGIE Vianeo hopes that this will increase customer loyalty.

Clémence Fischer, Managing Director, ENGIE Vianeo, commented, “The appetite for electric and hybrid cars is growing across Western Europe. We aim to meet this demand by rapidly expanding our number of charging stations. In France alone, we aim to have 12,000 charge points by the end of 2025. In Belgium, we expect to double the current number of charging stations to exceed 3,000 charge points by the same date. Managing such a large, dispersed estate presents challenges. So alongside BICS, we’re investing in technology to give us complete visibility over our infrastructure. This will help us improve the prompt response of our services and keep stations maintained and running reliably, so they’re always ready and available when customers need them.” 

Why BICS

The rapid rollout of charging stations makes a physical connection to them prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. Whether that is in metropolitan or rural areas for major routes. BICS offers the capability of providing cellular network connections across Europe (and beyond). It will allow Vianeo to install a new charging station and rapidly connect it to the network, without having to wait for a fixed connection. Faster connections mean a faster time to value for ENGIE Vianeo.

Mikael Schachne, Chief Revenue Officer, Enterprise at BICS (image credit - LinkedIn/Mikael Schachne)
Mikael Schachne, Chief Revenue Officer, Enterprise at BICS

The rollout of this technology will start in Belgium. It will later expand across the rest of Western Europe, including France, Italy and Spain. In total the partnership expects to enable around 50,000 devices as part of the collaboration.

Mikael Schachne, CRO Enterprise, BICS, commented, “IoT technology augments businesses by enabling real-time visibility across their operations, from the management of moving parts within factories to devices distributed across the globe. Enabling EV vehicles to access charging stations anywhere is essential as we look to achieve a more efficient and carbon-neutral mobility infrastructure. We are very pleased to partner with ENGIE Vianeo to accelerate their rollout, reducing the complexity with ‘plug-and-play’ SIM connectivity to rapidly and easily connect smart chargers across Europe.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This is a significant win for BICS’ new EV Charging practice. It aims to provide connectivity at all links of the EV charging supply chain. That includes charging station manufacturers, charging point operators and charging station software providers. ENGIE Vianeo has a growing footprint of charging stations, mainly within France currently. This partnership will see it able to connect to charging stations further afield. It is natural for the initial rollout to happen within Belgium. This will take advantage of the BICS home country and should iron out any issues.

What will be interesting to find out is how quickly it plans to retrofit the connectivity to existing charging points in France. Also, what are its plans for rolling out more points across Europe? Fischer’s comments show that the company has ambitions to become a significant player in the EV Charging market. It will face fierce competition across Europe.

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