(Article published in Automotive Innovations magazine, June 2023)

By Éric Descarries

With any new technology beginning  to make its mark on the market, there are always some unforeseen circumstances. Such is the case with the recent electric vehicle (EV) craze.

It’s true that this industry is more or less in its infancy, and that one of its main problems, apart from range anxiety, is the lack of availability of charging stations.

In many cases, motorists living in densely populated urban areas are the ones who have difficulty recharging their EVs. It’s sometimes impossible for them to do so at home, because charging stations are either non-existent or always busy. This is where a service like CAFU En Charge comes in.

EV Charging and Assistance

CAFU is a Dubai-based company specializing in on-demand automotive services via their app. Just recently, CAFU realized that it could also “deliver” a quick charge to EV users who are having trouble recharging their vehicle. And so was born CAFU En Charge, whose first pilot projects took place in Montreal, which is also the region where the service will first be offered to the public.

That’s what we learned from Jean-François Lapierre, Special Projects Manager/EV, in a live telephone conversation from Dubai! Soon, EV owners will be able to “subscribe” to CAFU En Charge via an app for smartphones (Apple or Android). Whether for ordinary recharging or “troubleshooting,” CAFU will use 100% electric vehicles (such as the Ford E-Transit), equipped with lithium-ion batteries whose power will be discharged to the customer’s car up to 80% (the maximum recommended by automakers for fast charging). Mr. Lapierre insists, however, that CAFU is not necessarily just a roadside assistance service, but rather a regular one. So, as Mr. Lapierre explained, in addition to taking care of vehicles “left on their own,” CAFU is thinking of creating a similar offer for commercial vehicles.

Mobile Fast-Charging Units

CAFU is intended as a complement to the static network which, for the moment, has its constraints. Of course, there will be no queuing, as the CAFU van will travel to the customer’s location to charge the vehicle in the safest possible way. It could even do so without  the vehicle owner present, thanks to a system developed by CAFU. According to Mr. Lapierre, there should be 15 to 20 mobile fast-charging units in service in the Montreal area to start with. This number could be supplemented by a few tow trucks providing the same service. CAFU believes it can accommodate around 20 customers per shift. Rates would be very reasonable, similar to those of other networks, plus service charges.

Jean-François Lapierre helped CAFU develop its system for the Montreal area, given the popularity (and expertise) surrounding electric vehicles there, before tackling the rest of North America, with Toronto as a possible next stop. Another interesting case to follow!

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