The number of electric vehicles (EV) is growing fast in Finland. In the recent years, the users of EVs can be recognized mostly as early adopters but as the market develops and the supply of electric cars improves, the electric vehicles are expected to become more popular in the majority as well. For instance, Ministry of Transport and Communications estimated in 2018 that there will be approximately 250,000 electric cars in Finland in 2030. The growing EV market creates a need for smart, easy and safe solutions both in public and domestic charging.
Aalto University’s Customized Student Business Projects give students a chance to work with real companies and gain experience in practice. Master’s students Sakari Huhtanen from School of Business and Electrical Engineering, Eveliina Leskinen from the School of Business and Svetlana Rybina from School of Electrical Engineering conducted a project in Electric Vehicle Charging market for Helen. The aim of the project was to research the electric vehicle charging market in Finland, define Helen’s position and competitive advantages and develop business models for the customer acquisition process.
‘We are all from different majors, which was an advantage since the project required understanding of the technical aspects but also business perspective. The electric car charging market is an emerging market in Finland and therefore, prior data and information are scarce. However, we were able to deliver valuable results and solutions for Helen. Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, we had an opportunity to conduct an interesting scenario analysis of how these circumstances influence the market and gain deeper insight of the market forces,’ students tell.
Students became very familiar with the EV-charging market
The student team wanted to participate in the project because they saw it as a great opportunity to learn new and participate in a project aiming to find an answer for a real-life business issue.
Sakari Huhtanen tells that even though he had studied energy technology, he didn’t know more than the basics about the EV-charging market.
‘I’m pretty sure that it was a good thing, since I could start working and brainstorming with a totally fresh mind with no biases restricting my thinking. Probably the most interesting part of the project was making different estimations for the client, how the COVID-19 situation affects this particular market. In a nutshell, it has a horrendous effect. But most likely the market will bounce back fairly fast.’
‘I did not have prior knowledge about the electric cars or charging but after the project, I could consider myself some sort of an expert. I think the most rewarding thing in this project was the fact that we could create something valuable for the customer and help their business develop,’ says Eveliina Leskinen.
Svetlana Rybina has a big interest towards electric cars, and she would like to relate her future career with the field.
‘Now, I see more opportunities and problems than electric grid stress and lack of chargers. My most favourite part was talking with people who have been working with battery cars for years and thus, see the whole situation from a professional perspective.’
According to Helen’s Head of Marketing Tanja Kaasinen, the project was completed with good results and the students’ findings helped Helen develop their electric car charging offering further. The students came up with ideas for business models that support Helen’s influence in the market and improve the customer acquisition process. Sohvi Salmelin, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, says that especially the competitor and the corona impact analysis help the company develop its offering. Helen will look more into a data-driven model for electric charging offers which the students advised and created the framework for.
Professor of Practice Jouni Juntunen, the project’s supervisor from Aalto, was delighted to see how students adapted to dynamic environment.
‘We only had the kick of meeting in customer’s premises. Everything from that point was digital without physical meetings. Not only the way of working changed but also COVID-19 situation altered focus of the research and the team was able to take new direction in their work and achieve excellent results.’