Earlier in February, Slovakia’s e-mobility service provider GreenWay raised 85 million euros to be invested in the company’s growth and expand its network. It was the largest known investment into the electric vehicle (EV) chargings in Central and Eastern Europe, a signal of the strong growth of the e-mobility industry in the region.
CEENERGYNEWS spoke with Peter Badík, co-founder and Chairman of the Board of GreenWay about the development of the electromobility sector in CEE, which markets have the strongest potential for electric vehicles and what we can expect in the near future.
“2021 was a critical year for fundamental growth,” Mr Badík begins, underling that the company’s ambition is to be the largest service provider in Central and Eastern Europe.
“To reach this goal you need three things,” he explains. “A good strategy and business model; personal and human capacity; and the right financial structure. The second pillar is particularly important as the whole industry is evolving so there is a need for people that are able to adapt. It is hard to find people with experience in this area, so we are looking at people out of this industry, newly graduated, who we can train and grow together with.”
GreenWay now has employed around 100 people, so from the perspective of the size it is not a huge company that requires a large number of people, but it is still the largest team in CEE dealing with EV charging infrastructure.
“We have recently received an investment of 85 million euros from two funds so we can employ sufficient sources,” Peter Badík reminds.
The agreement was finalised in February with Helios Energy Investments, a group of infrastructure funds and Generation Capital, the first and largest listed energy and infrastructure fund in Israel. They were joined by existing shareholders janom, a private equity company and Slovakia’s leading venture capital fund manager, Neulogy Ventures.
Indeed, the investment comes at a time of very strong tailwinds behind the transition to EVs. In 2021, one-fifth of all new car sales in Europe were electric, totalling around 2 million vehicles, compared to 1.3 million in 2020.
“The number of new electric vehicles on European roads has grown up to 9.1 per cent, compared to 5.4 per cent the previous year,” says Mr Badík.
“In general, this is a good number but it is not a good statistic for Central and Eastern Europe which still needs to catch up and in this region, it needs to grow much faster.”
Overall, according to him, 12 per cent of all cars sold in Europe are sold in CEE. However, out of these only 3 per cent are electric ones, so there is still a disparity that we need to bridge.
“Very good numbers are in Poland, which almost doubled the number of electric vehicles over the last years,” he adds.
“Surprisingly, the country with the largest share of e-cars is Romania and I say surprisingly because, in Romania, the purchasing power is very low compared to other CEE countries. Nevertheless, the share of electric vehicles in the country is 4.6 per cent, a bit higher than the regional average.”
For 2022, Mr Badík expects stable growth with new models on the market. But, he also expects complications in the supply chain as cars will not be delivered as fast as they are requested.
“Also, the spending attitude is changing,” he points out. “On one hand, due to the rising inflation, people spend faster to not lose the value of the money. At the same time, they are also more conscious of spending.”
Regardless, GreenWay and its new partners see huge potential in a CEE region with over 100 million inhabitants.
“The electromobility sector in the region is growing and we have finalised (or we are about to) cooperation with several other companies so to create know-how, market position and then work together,” Mr Badík explains. “We want to align our growth with the growth of the market which sometimes is saturated. We want to follow it, by investing a bit in advance before cars are effectively on the roads, focusing more on charging hubs. In this regard, it is important to cover the whole country first.”
“We are now in an expansion phase with more high power chargers (at 150-170 kilowatts, kW). The smaller ones (50 kW) are also still good sometimes but we want to bring new innovations, to move much faster both for the drivers and the fleet and also the partners for which we are running the infrastructure. Then we can also expand in other markets outside of Poland and Slovakia, where we are already present.”
And GreenWay is already in the position of driving the demand as the response from people is positive and there is a need for more cars.
“I think that this situation will persist and more investments will happen,” Peter Badík concludes. “It is not just about electric vehicles but the infrastructure as well and we want to make sure people know that chargers are there and they do not have to worry.”