Yoann Nussbaumer, the whiz kid of clean mobility
Founder of Chargemap.com, a website mapping electric vehicle charging stations across Europe, Yoann Nussbaumer has made clean mobility his number one priority.
Yoann Nussbaumer has always been mad about cars. With a mechanic turned instructor for a father, there was every chance that Yoann, 36, the eldest of five children, would follow the family trade. “My brother and I spent all our time fixing up old cars in our backyard,” he remembers. As a bright-eyed teenager, he dreamt of designing cars, spending hours sketching his creations before discovering the internet. At age 16, he taught himself to design websites. Following his new passion, he earned a degree in communication networks and services and then worked for a year and a half as a web developer before going back to school to study computer engineering in Strasbourg, where he still lives. While still a student, no older than 18, he founded various web design companies, creating websites for businesses, which “helped pay the rent on my student housing”.
The first to see the potential of “clean” cars
Despite all these adventures, he had not forgotten his dream of working in automobiles. When his last company folded due to the financial crisis, Yoann had already predicted the future. After reading an article on the Tesla Roadster, he felt the change coming and concluded that carmakers would ultimately have no other choice than to go green. In 2008, acting “on a whim, an intuition”, he created his blog, Automobile Propre, which would subsequently become a website focusing on green vehicles. “I didn’t want to limit it to electric cars because I thought that other clean energies would emerge,” he recalls. “The carmakers were quick to discover the site and started asking us to test their prototypes.” It wasn’t long before Automobile-Propre.com became a reference in this niche market. Fast forward ten years and the site now receives 5 million page views per month, an indicator that has “doubled each year”.
Mapping electric charging stations
Bursting with ideas, the young entrepreneur did not stop there. At the same time, while looking into the possibility of buying his own electric car, he tried to locate charging stations for topping up the vehicle when away from home and drew a blank. That was when he decided to make his own map. In 2011, Chargemap.com, a website designed to list and map all the charging stations for electric vehicles across Europe, was born, followed by a mobile app. “Along the same lines as Wikipedia and speed camera tracking”, electric vehicle users registered with the site report the stations and submit photos and comments. Chargemap follows up by verifying user contributions before they are posted.
A single payment method
After noticing that multiple station networks and payment methods were making things difficult for electric vehicle owners, Yoann launched the Chargemap pass in 2016. This RFID card – “like a hotel room key” – lets drivers pay for charging their cars with Chargemap’s partner networks. The goal is to “extend the Chargemap pass to as many networks as possible so that users can charge their cars at any location”. Another project in the pipeline is “a personalized trip planner, calculating the best route with recharge options depending on the type of vehicle and battery and an estimate of the cost”.
Thanks to a collaborative system with more than 335,000 members and counting, Chargemap is the leader of this new market. Despite getting off to a slow start, Yoann is confident that electric vehicle sales will eventually take off. “Autonomy is no longer a problem. They’re better for the environment than standard cars and now they can be charged with electricity from renewable sources.” With a website already translated into 18 languages, Yoann aims to map electric charging stations the world over.