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Easelink And Holding Graz Start Pioneering Project

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Simple and cable-free charging of electric vehicles in public spaces: carsharing electric cars of Holding Graz in the innovative city of Graz automatically charge using Matrix Charging technology from Easelink.

Electromobility in Austria is just getting started. Out of over 5 million registered cars in Austria, the share of electric vehicles is not even 1%. The roughly 32,000 registered electric vehicles can currently make use of about 5,000 publicly accessible charging points. Battery-powered vehicles are particularly well suited for urban regions and are experiencing 40% annual growth in Austria. The breakthrough for electromobility depends heavily on an expansion of the charging infrastructure. The need for further development of the urban public charging infrastructure is tremendous. (Sources: Statistics Austria, BEÖ)

“For a number of years, Holding Graz has operated one of the leading carsharing offerings in Austria, tim - täglich.intelligent.mobil (daily.intelligent.mobile), with over 2,100 users and 500,000 kilometers traveled with the electric car fleet,” explains Holding Graz CEO Wolfgang Malik. Especially for e-carsharing charging stations at multimodal traffic nodes, an intensive search is under way for better charging options as an alternative to existing charging systems, such as wall or pillar stations. The competition between parking spaces and walkways as well as the lack of surfaces for installing cable-based charging systems make it difficult to expand the prevalence of these types of charging stations in urban areas. The installation of charging stations and the cables running between the stations and the electric vehicles also create barriers in public spaces.

Moreover, handling of the charging cables can be awkward and impractical for e-carsharing users. Once users arrive at the parking space of the electric vehicle, they must disconnect the charging cable and stow it in the vehicle before they can begin their travel. Upon returning the vehicle to the charging station, users must reconnect the charging cable to begin the charging process.

In cooperation with Easelink GmbH, a high-tech Graz-based company, Holding Graz and its mobility service tim have recently begun use of a charging system that is precisely adapted to the charging infrastructure requirements for charging in public spaces. “The solution for comprehensive urban charging infrastructure in public spaces is a cable-free, automated conductive charging system installed within the parking space surface,” says Hermann Stockinger, founder and CEO of Easelink GmbH.

Just a few days ago, Europe's first automated charging system installed in public was put into operation by Holding Graz. The automated conductive charging system, Matrix Charging, consists of just two components, a connector in the vehicle underbody and a charging plate integrated into the parking space surface. After the electric car is parked, the connector integrated into the vehicle underbody lowers and connects with the charging plate, which is embedded flush in the parking space surface. The vehicle is automatically charged with the Matrix Charging technology via the direct physical connection (conductive).

“The project for automated charging of electric vehicles combines our interest in pursuing climate protection and sustainability with our focus on practicality and functionality: The new technology should enable more reliable and efficient charging of the vehicles as part of our carsharing service ‘tim', both supporting the goal of barrier-free accessibility in public spaces and providing additional convenience to users of the Graz Holding electric car fleet,” explains City Counselor for finance and investments Günter Riegler.

No tripping hazards in public spaces
The charging plate of the charging system is integrated flush into the parking space surface. No charging pillar or charging cable are required for charging the electric vehicle. The absence of a cable connection between the vehicle and the charging station eliminates tripping hazards. A barrier-free zone is maintained, and there are no obstacles to the movement of strollers or wheelchairs.

User convenience thanks to automated charging process
The Matrix Charging system offers tim e-carsharing users increased convenience by eliminating the need to manually plug and unplug the charging cable. Especially during rainy or snowy weather, e-carsharing users no longer have to hassle with the charging cable, juggling between the cable, an umbrella and their charging card. After parking the electric vehicle in the parking space, it is charged automatically thanks to Matrix Charging.

Outlook for widespread automated charging infrastructure in Graz
Within the framework of a project jointly supported by the EU and the regional division of the province of Styria as well as with funds from StLREG 2018, the Matrix Charging technology is currently being tested under real-world conditions. Further follow-up projects with Matrix Charging in public use are already in the implementation process, with more details to be communicated at the end of summer 2020.
“The feedback obtained from tim e-carsharing users will be particularly useful in the continued development of the charging technology,” says Hermann Stockinger. The insights from a variety of e-carsharing users will enter directly into the development process of the charging technology. Plus, the insights will be submitted to working groups at various international standardization bodies of which Easelink is a member. Easelink is working to set the international standard for automated charging.
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