Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: April 18, 2024
Inés Platini
By Inés Platini

SMARTFOX: “We do not want electromobility in Austria to become an obligation imposed by the Government”

In a conversation with Mobility Portal Europe, Matthias Fischbacher, Managing Director at SMARTFOX, discusses the progress of the eMobility market in Austria. Additionally, he previews the firm's upcoming projects. What are the main concerns of the sector?
SMARTFOX-Mobility Portal Europe
Matthias Fischbacher, Managing Director at SMARTFOX.

With the intention of understanding the current situation of electromobility in Austria, Mobility Portal Europe engages in a dialogue with Matthias Fischbacher, Managing Director at SMARTFOX.

Despite the significant progress observed in the country, Fischbacher points out: “We do not want the adoption of eMobility to become an obligation imposed by the Government.”

In other words, despite the subsidies granted and the goals set to promote the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), it is essential that people “understand what the ultimate purpose” of this transition is.

Currently, the purchase of an EVs by individuals receives an incentive of 5,000 euros, of which 2,000 come from car importers and 3,000 from the federal government.

In addition to these bonuses, the administration reduces taxes on zero-emission company vehicles to make them more attractive to employees.

This tax advantage translates into a higher registration of commercial automobiles compared to private ones, according to the Managing Director of SMARTFOX.

We observe very positive registrations and great interest in eMobility in Austria,” states in this regard.

According to the latest figures published by the Austrian Federal Association for Electromobility (BEÖ in German), by the end of March 2024, there were more than 160,000 purely electric cars.

This represents approximately 4.9 per cent of the total EV fleet in the country.

In addition to this, as of December 31, 2023, there were already 22,139 public charging points, mainly located in Lower and Upper Austria, and Tyrol.

However, the difference between registrations of private and company cars is not entirely related to incentives.

On the contrary, it is also linked to the country’s economic situation, which experienced an inflation rate of 4.2 per cent in March, according to a preliminary estimate from Statistics Austria.

Although a decrease in this percentage is anticipated throughout the year, this phenomenon is impacting EV sales.

During the third month of this year, 10.802 eCars were registered for the first time, constituting 17,1 per cent of all new registrations.

This figure reflects a slight decrease of 3,9 per cent compared to 2023.

“This happens because people face much more urgent concerns, such as paying rent or the increase in food costs,” explains Fischbacher.

Another sector that experienced a growth in prices is the energy sector.

Although costs have decreased compared to the previous year, they are still generally high.

What advantages does the SMARTFOX charging solution offer?

Our goal is to provide comprehensive energy management,” emphasizes Fischbacher.

SMARTFOX Pro Charger.

With over 20 years of experience in the photovoltaic sector, the company combines electric vehicle charging with solar energy.

Their product, Pro Charger, in combination with the SMARTFOX Pro energy manager, allows the use of electricity generated by the photovoltaic system itself.

Even in instances of reduced power output from the installation, it remains feasible to charge the car using surplus available energy, while also automatically selecting the optimal operating point.

This means that even when the energy performance of the photovoltaic system is low, for example, in bad weather, the load can be carried out with a surplus alone.

With low power, single-phase charging can be started from as little as 1.4 kilowatts.

If the surplus energy increases, SMARTFOX automatically switches to three-phase charging and can now steplessly control up to 11 kilowatts.

This becomes a simple and economical solution.

According to calculations made by the company, a compact EV consumes around 2,000 kilowatt-hour per year (with an annual mileage of approximately 10,000 km).

The average cost of electricity from the grid is about 0.30 cents per kilowatt-hour, while photovoltaic energy costs only about 0.10 cents per kilowatt-hour (calculated with a 10 kWp system).

This reduces travel expenses to one-third.

What else do the SMARTFOX Pro and Pro Charger offer? 

Stepless surplus charging, dynamic load management, automatic single-phase/tri-phase switching, and free monitoring,” the company highlights. 

Through the free My SMARTFOX app, users can monitor the system, including all consumers such as heat pumps, heating elements in boilers or accumulators, pool pumps, and many more, at all times, and control them as needed. 

Furthermore, a quick control function is available for electric vehicle charging stations, allowing the customer to select desired charging modes. 

And that’s not all.

Additionally, this year, SMARTFOX will introduce the SMARTFOX Pro Charger 2 to the market, a charging box designed for homes and small businesses.

SMARTFOX Pro Charger 2.

This is because, according to the CEO, approximately 70 per cent of all EV recharges occur at home or at the workplace.

“Therefore, our focus and product range fit perfectly into this segment,” he emphasizes.

It is an ideal combination of product technical development and international design expertise.

We have put a lot of effort into the charging experience. Optically and tactilely, we seek to provide the customer with a pleasant sensation,” details Fischbacher.

In which other countries does SMARTFOX operate?

The company is also operational in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.

Furthermore, Fischbacher assures that they have expansion plans for the future: “We consider Europe as our primary and target market.”

In this regard, he highlights that the continent is currently facing a period of challenges, although mobility continues to evolve constantly.

In this context, he emphasizes the need to reduce the dependence on external resources to the European Union (EU), as stated by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) in a report.

In the statement, it pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic, the semiconductor crisis, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlighted the EU’s extreme dependence on third countries for certain key materials.

To address this issue, Fischbacher highlights three requirements that must be met: technical capacity, “which we already possess,” appropriate regulatory frameworks, and the political will to implement necessary changes.

“If we reduce these dependencies, we will also decrease problems in general,” he expresses.

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