One year ago, Chargery was just a small company that merely offered its mobile charging service for electric cars in the trendy Berlin district of Prenzlauerberg. Today, one year later, it’s a serious startup with 25 employees and great plans, says CEO and co-founder Christian Lang in his brand new office in Berlin-Mitte.
“Nowadays we’re charging about 1000 cars a month in Berlin. The service will also become available in Hamburg and another large German city. We’re doing pretty well”, says Lang.
The idea for Chargery came about approximately one and a half years ago in the summer of 2017, along with co-founders Philipp Anders and Paul Stuke. Lang had just recently rented an electric car, but noticed how difficult it was to find a charging station nearby. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there would be someone to solve this charging problem for you?
Electric bike with trailer
The idea for a mobile charging service was born. The first concept for an electric bike with a trailer behind it including a large battery to charge it was created that same year, but was unfortunately stolen because the bike chain had been cut.
The second prototype, however, did not take long and was convincing enough to impress three angel investors and BMW with its carsharing subsidiary DriveNow. Meanwhile, Sixt and Smart (Daimler) have joined the company as customers, as well as the German film production agency Pantaleon of actor Matthias Schweighöfer. Sixt has also taken a modest stake in the company.
Lang uses his example to explain how it works. “Sixt and Drive Now employ people who manage the use, rental and maintenance of the electric shared cars. They have a system in which they can see where the cars are located and also what the battery percentage is. If they see that one of their cars is really starting to run low (less than 20%), they give us a heads up with the request to fix it. We then look at where the car is located. If there is a free charging station nearby, we send one of our E-scooters to bring the car to that charging station. If there are no available charging stations, we go there by bike and mobile charge the car on the spot.”
From tire pressure to vacuuming
According to Lang, about half of the electric shared cars is charged mobile, and the other half is charged by a stationary charging station. “Our expectation is for it stay like this for a couple of years, but in the long run, if the number of charging stations increases, we have to keep in mind that the percentage of mobile charging will decrease.”
So less work in the future? “No, not at all”, says Lang. Firstly, more and more electric cars will appear, which will give more work. Secondly, Chargery’s services are much broader than just mobile charging. “That is why we like to use the term “full-service” for what we do. Our service is about much more than just mobile charging. For example, we also offer to clean the car inside and out and check the tire pressure. It’s a whole range of services.”
For the time being, the service is only available for business customers such as Sixt and Drive Now in the Berlin districts of Prenzlauerberg, Mitte, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. “But we are also working with Daimler on a project for private E-Smart drivers.”
In addition, work is being done to improve the quality of the service. For example, the mobile charging station of Chargery now has a capacity of 5 kilowatt hours, which can charge a car in about 3 hours. “We will soon switch to 30 kW. It can then be done in 45 minutes.”
Prague first hub abroad
Lang is now working hard to expand the Chargery concept to other cities. In Prague, Czech Republic, Chargery has found a franchisee who has found Skoda as a customer for the mobile service. Chargery will soon open a branch in Hamburg and, according to Lang, another large city is coming up.
There is also a lot of interest from abroad, says Lang without mentioning names. He is also working on patenting the entire Chargery concept, but he is not particularly worried about this. “I don’t see any serious competition for the time being. There are trucks that offer a similar mobile loading service as we do, but I doubt whether they have a chance of success in a busy city.”