Market Spotlight: IONITY in Italy
Italy is unique when it comes to electric vehicle (EV) charging, with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Despite facing some hurdles, IONITY has been steadily expanding its network of high-power charging stations in Italy. One of the key figures driving this expansion is Elena Airoldi, the Country Manager for Italy.
In this interview, Elena shares her experience of working in the e-mobility industry, her motivations, and some interesting insights into the Italian EV market:
Elena, can you tell us when you started working in e-mobility and what made you choose IONITY as your first employer in the industry?
I started working in the e-mobility industry four years ago when I joined IONITY. I had just graduated with a degree in engineering and with my STEM background the e-mobility sector was a good fit. IONITY was something completely new and exciting to me. Also, I was drawn to the international team and environment as well as to the possibility of traveling for work.
Can you tell us a little bit about your role at IONITY?
I started as Rollout Manager and oversaw the high-power charger installation process, basically everything from the permitting to the construction on-site, so I was trusted with a lot of responsibility from the very start. After one year, I got promoted to Country Manager. My core task now is site scouting, which means I am responsible for identifying new target areas for our IONITY high-power charging stations.
Country Manager Italy
A lot has happened since you started at IONITY. How have the past four years been for you?
It's been challenging because there wasn't an established high-power charging network when I started at IONITY, so we had to start from scratch. Actually, the first high-power charging station we built was also the first in Italy which was open for all EV brands. Four years later, the market is growing, and the situation has completely changed. Both the number of charging points and electric cars have more than doubled in the last years.
Italy is an important market for e-mobility. Why is that so?
There are at least two reasons for that. First, Italy has more cars than driver’s licenses, so there is great potential for e-Mobility. Especially when some of the older cars are replaced, we expect a drastic increase in EV purchases. Second and maybe even more important, Italy ranks as one of the top holiday destinations in Europe every year. This means many tourists come to our beautiful country – more and more of them by electric vehicle.
Can you tell us more about the development of the IONITY network in Italy?
Currently, there are 26 stations open to the public, and the north is completely connected with the south. Also, eight stations under construction will be ready to charge within a year. We just opened another station on a key travel route in Affi, near lake Garda, with 18 chargers covered by a photovoltaic roof. The station is surrounded by restaurants, bars, bistros and a shopping mall, so there is much to do while charging. Our goal for the year is to find new locations in Italy and keep expanding our network. Therefore, we will dedicate a lot of effort to establishing new partnerships with landlords and retailers to create these win-win solutions.
Are there any specific challenges you face in developing the network in Italy?
Yes, there are challenges. However, these challenges are similar to many other countries: time-consuming bureaucracy that sometimes causes delays and skeptism regarding e-mobility. So, we are hoping for some adaptations in regulations in the near future and focus greatly on raising awareness with people who haven't warmed up to the thought of driving an EV just yet. One big hurdle for many people is the limited choice of electric cars. However, that is luckily already changing, given all the announcements of the car manufacturers. Another common concern is the availability of the charging infrastructure, which is why IONITY and many other charge point operators are working tirelessly on rapidly extending charging networks in both rural and urban areas.
It feels like you are very driven in your work. Can you tell us what motivates you?
The main thing that motivates me is seeing how much the market and Italy can change in just four years. It's crazy and exciting how fast things are developing. One can now travel from north to south without any problems, which seemed almost impossible just a few years ago.
Name: Elena Airoldi
Title: Country Manager Italy
Based: Near Milan
Started to work for IONITY: February 2019
Main interests: Hiking, skiing and time with family and friends
How would you describe your work to a five-year-old? I'm trying to make it possible for people to travel with an electric vehicle in Italy and make it easier for tourists to see our beautiful country. We're building special places where people can charge their cars and keep exploring all the great places Italy has to offer.