ENGIE Vianeo, BICS team to add IoT capability to support smart EV charging

With electric vehicles becoming increasingly popular across Europe – with some studies calculating new electric car registrations at nearly 3.2 million in 2023, increasing by almost 20% annually – demand for more accessible charging infrastructure is growing.

ENGIE Vianeo, the EV charging business of energy company ENGIE Group, is partnering with international communications enabler BICS to connect its charging stations to the internet of things (IoT).

In 2023, the EU approved a law to add more chargers across its member states, with specific targets for 2025 and 2030. This legislation put specific emphasis on installing stations across main highways.  

In response to this demand, ENGIE launched its charging business, ENGIE Vianeo almost exactly a year ago, and sees its partnership with BICS as a way to upgrade the technology supporting its expanding estate.

By using the BICS SIM for Things IoT connectivity portal, ENGIE is upgrading its EV charging estate into a network of IoT devices to improve efficiency, reliability and user convenience. It also believes that partnering with BICS will deliver seamless connectivity, security and regulatory compliance to support ENGIE’s plans for rapid European roll-out.

The solution supports remote maintenance and troubleshooting, analytics on station activity, and enables remote software and firmware updates. These are said to be determining rating criteria recognised by the users. 

Previous iterations of the technology have used a ‘black box’ fitted to the stations. These would collect data but have to be physically collected and processed, while this new solution means real-time, remote data collection from the highway to the head office which allows for remote maintenance and enhanced decision-making.

The real-time data provided by the solution will also improve customer experience, described by ENGIE Vianeo as a key element of the transition to a lower-emission mobility model. Users will be able to see live information, via their phone app, on nearby charger availability or the charging status of their vehicle. 

“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,” said ENGIE Vianeo managing director Clémence Fischer.

“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.”

Due to the typical locations of charging stations, in built-up metropolitan areas or remote highways, mobile connectivity (as opposed to fixed fibre) is a must. BICS said that it is aiming to make this simple for ENGIE Vianeo, providing the internet connection, the SIM cards to connect the charging stations, and its SIM for Things platform for easy setup and maintenance.

While the initial roll-out for these connected chargers will focus on Belgium, they will later expand across Western Europe, including France, Italy and Spain. Around 50,000 devices are expected to be deployed as part of the collaboration.

“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,” added BICS CRO of enterprise Mikael Schachne.

“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.”

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