Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: July 8, 2024
Foto Javi MP
By Javiera Altamirano

Attention CPOs: ChargePlanner calculates the most profitable locations to build charging stations

The software, developed by RetailSonar, enables you to predict the usage of new charging sites based on up to date market data and AI. The solution exists today for car charging and will be launched for truck charging soon. How does ChargePlanner work?
ChargePlanner RetailSonar
ChargePlanner, a software as a service (SaaS) solution.

Currently, one of the biggest challenges facing charging point operators (CPOs) is how to choose the optimal locations to install charging stations. This is where ChargePlanner comes into play.

It is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that helps predict the usability of future sites and define their optimal configuration, determining the potential for slow, fast, and ultra-fast charging separately.

“It is highly appreciated by the sector, and we are now developing a system for trucks, with the highest possible precision,” says Dieter Debels, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of the company, in an interview with Mobility Portal Europe.

Dieter Debels, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at RetailSonar.

The solution for heavy transport is expected to be launched in the near future.

“Therefore we rely on data sources that allow us to track and locate 20 percent of drivers in each European country and, based on this, we can derive the potential for E-truck charging stations,” says the founder.

These rich data sources differentiate ChargePlanner apart from its competitors.

“And starting from these datasets we have constructed predictive models that can be tested on each possible location, in order to identify hotspots everywhere in Europe,” explains Debels.

Considering the above, the question arises… What are the key performance factors that determine the success of an electric vehicle (EV) charging site?

“The logic behind this is that there are different target audiences with different needs,” says the founder.

Therefore, it is essential to know where these users are and what they are looking for.

On one hand, there are the so-called “charge and go” drivers. These are people who take long trips and need to charge their EVs on the road.

In this regard, they mainly rely on ultra-fast charging.

These users will also be attracted if the locations have amenities such as fast-food restaurants and convenience stores.

The second target audience is known as “visit and charge” or “destination charging.”

This refers to people who visit a point of interest – such as a shopping center or a tourist attraction – for a couple of hours and want to charge their car during their visit.

“For this goal, it is important that the station’s infrastructure aligns with the time the person spends at the point of interest,” acknowledges Debels.

He adds: “If it concerns local visitors who stay for one to three hours, then a fast-charging station is ideal.”

Finally, there is a third target audience known as “stay and charge customers.”

These are drivers who stay longer at the location, either because they live, work, or need to spend the night there.

In this case, slow charging is more than sufficient for them.

“This is how we structure our solution,” says the founder of RetailSonar.

It is worth mentioning that it is not only important to make the right decision about where to place the station, but also to consider the type of charger, the quantity, and that it is optimized according to the available power.

Roadmap: ChargePlanner’s European expansion

The company is working on a strong international expansion plan.

As of today, ChargePlanner is available in six countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Besides that, Debels announces: “We are currently installing the solution in Portugal, Poland, and Luxembourg. In October, it will also be available in Italy.”

He continues: “Our goal is to expand throughout Europe within the next 9 to 12 months.”

How can one access the system?

Those interested can gain access to the application for the country or countries of their choice.

“There is an onboarding stage in which each user is trained on how to use it. Afterwards, they can test locations unlimitedly on their own. It’s simple,” explains the founder.

Individual sites can be testes as well as batches of locations.

For example to provide insights for a set of locations that are offered by a retailer or a local government by means of public tenders.

“For example, if a supermarket chain offers its parking spaces, those with ChargePlanner can easily analyze each site and determine if they are interested or not”, he says.

Moreover, more advanced users can autonomously analyze each possible location in the country and thereby determine for themselves where the most important locations are.

About RetailSonar

The company that developed the software, was founded 12 years ago and has developed a strong European footprint in Europe to help more than 150 large retail companies in industries such as supermarket chains, fastfood restaurants and fuel stations.

This software helps them to make the right location decisions based on data and artificial intelligence.

Two years ago, “ChargePlanner” was developed as some clients in the fuel sector began requesting a solution for charging sites.

In the meantime, already around 20 CPOs are basing their location strategy on insights from the platform, with commendatory testimonials. 

A clear example is TotalEnergies, which uses the system in 6 countries. 

The roadmap for Chargeplanner is dynamic.

“For example, in the last weeks, we have added new data sources and pricing information to the platform,” he says.

“This means that users can now see the price parameter for each existing location in the country and can also optimize their own prices.”

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