»Click here for all the Better Energy articles
Total: An instantly recognisable name by the roadside almost anywhere in the world.
As a historical player in energy for mobility, Total is committed to improving the energy efficiency of vehicles. Total is investing in the development of electric mobility through the expertise of its new business line EV Charge, which offers complete and easy-to-use charging solutions for electric vehicles to meet all customers' needs.
In 2019, Total's operated charge points delivered more than 10 GWh of electrical energy, enabling its customers to travel nearly 60 million kilometers in electric vehicles (i.e. 1,500 times around the Earth) and avoid nearly 7,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions (CO21). No mean feat, considering the sustainable mobility arm of the business was only established 10 years ago.
It is a transformation for the multinational, but one that makes good sense, "Total has been such a big player in both energy and mobility for so long now, it's a natural fit in terms of the business," says Pierre Clasquin, Total's VP EV Charge.
He came on board as the e-mobility lead when his own company was acquired by Total in 2018, "The reason I got into this sector, coming with a tech background, was that I wanted to make a personal impact. I was convinced, and still am, that using tech in a meaningful way can really move traditional environments. Being with a huge company like Total in this space we can really make a difference."
Clasquin's remit is wide and his strategy is ambitious: by 2025, Total aims to have 150,000 operated charge points in Europe and a network of 1,000 high power charge points (up to 175 kW) in 300 Total service stations by 2022. Equivalent to one every 150 kms in Western Europe.
"Disruption in this sector doesn't just mean moving from fuel-powered to electric vehicles. We are also fragmenting a business model we've had for decades, the service station," he continues, "With e-mobility you'll be able to recharge anywhere, home, work, on the roadside, at the mall, everywhere you park."
The growing commitment to better energy is obvious, at a government, business and individual level. Governments and companies are introducing targets for the CO2 emissions reduction and improving their long-term sustainability when it comes to energy. Mobility is a key part of this.
For local and regional authorities, Total creates a bespoke public charging service which supports the development of electric mobility exactly where it is needed. The company aims to become a top-three provider across five countries in Europe: France, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Germany.
To that end, a deal was signed in January with Amsterdam's Metropolitan Region for the installation and operation of up to 20,000 EV charge points in the provinces of North Holland, Flevoland and Utrecht. This network covers a 3.2 million population and makes up 15% of the Netherlands' EV charging demand.
It is the biggest e-mobility contract ever signed in Europe and the electricity supplied by Total Netherlands to the network will be 100% sourced from renewable power.
Last year a growing number of companies signed up to Total, "Clients have a sustainability issue and they need a solution. We have between 6 and 10 standardized offers we can make to businesses," says Clasquin, "Take one of our customers, DHL, we know they use vehicles in the day for deliveries and charge them at night, that's a model a lot of businesses in the logistics sector use. We make our offer accordingly."
DHL uses Total's EV solutions at its depot in central Paris, the site is a showcase for its environmental strategy in France. The company chose Total for the reliability and flexibility of their offer, as well as ongoing support after set-up. "They adapted to the way we use our vehicles. The fleet is connected to an internet platform (EV Platform) which allows us to access data 24 hours a day, meaning we can use the vehicles in the very best and most efficient way for our business," explains Thibaud Berzioux, Production Manager at the depot.
Total currently has more than 310,000 B2B customers in Europe using a corporate fleet. Their specific needs call for complete and turnkey solutions enabling the vehicles' charging to occur on-site at work but also at employees' homes.
Individuals may come to Total for a wrap-around energy offer, with a view to reducing their ecological footprint. They might take out a green energy supply contract, for example with solar panels, and then use that to charge their cars.
Total is committed in making electric mobility accessible wherever people need it to lift the remaining obstacles of its development. However, Total keeps in mind the source of the energy the EV field requires. "The deployment of e-mobility is only interesting if you keep it renewable," Clasquin points out.
The whole EV charging landscape has to be fully integrated, whether you are charging at work, at home or on the road.
Technology is vital to the success of e-mobility, "We're moving into the 'Internet of things', we're talking a whole new architecture for the consumer," Clasquin says, "At every stage, from the car to the charge point, everything is interconnected in its own ecosystem. We need to connect it all. It's not just tech for the sake of tech, it has to add value for the end user." The strength of Total's charge points lies in their integrated supervision system which offers several services like users' identification and services adapted to their profile, and enabling billing process, infrastructure remote control or malfunction detection for maintenance set up.
"We want to offer a seamless service," he adds. Total provides a range of support via its apps; monitoring charge, locating charge points and tracking mileage. With the EV Pack, fleet managers benefit from an online customer area with simplified administrative and tax formalities, detailed fleet consumption reports and a single invoice for all services.
Total's smart-charging technology allows stable grid management at times of high electricity consumption, as well as efficient and sustainable charging when the cost of energy is lower. Storage of green energy is an ongoing issue across the renewables sector, but battery technology is improving fast.
Clasquin admits developing EV charging is costly, but rewards are not all that far off, "As you invest more to improve, costs go down, and you eventually get into the virtuous circle. I believe we'll be breaking even with a sustainable model by 2025. The current EV user rate is low but that's normal. I take a long-term view, we're certainly not in this space to make a quick buck."
Where will Total see the first returns on EV Charge? "The Netherlands is a mature market for e-mobility and it's the first place we'll break even," Clasquin is categorical, the conditions are right, "E-mobility penetration is high and there's high population density, which is exactly what we need."
After 10 years in the sector, the future for cleaner and more sustainable mobility is bright. Total sees the U.S. West Coast and China as attractive markets in the medium term.
In Western Europe, political regulation and policy seem to consistently point in the direction of sustainability, including a big push toward e-mobility.
As a company Total is well-placed to manage the transition, "We can use legacy to make the change," says Clasquin, "Change is never easy, but the e-mobility climate is as favourable as it's ever been."
1 Based on the following assumptions: (i) average EV consumption 17kWh/100 km (ii) CO2 saving calculated on the average ICE emission 124.5 g/km