4 April 2023

Follow Henrik Fries' journey from Polestar to the future with ChargeNode

With solid experience behind him at Polestar, among others, Henrik Fries now takes on the role of Senior Director Product Development at ChargeNode. We caught up with him to get an insight into his exciting role.

Hello Henrik Fries. What do you do at ChargeNode?

Henrik Fries joined ChargeNode 3 years ago. He is an electrical engineer from Chalmers, specializing in business administration and entrepreneurship. After graduating, he worked in business and product development in various companies, mostly as an owner. In recent years, he has helped develop Polestar from a pure racing company to offer everything from engine optimizations to Polestar Editions on various Volvo models. When the company was sold to Volvo in 2015, he continued as R&D manager and laid the foundation for Polestar 1 & 2. In other words, the match with ChargeNode’s vision is 100%.

What is unique about ChargeNode's charging technology?

ChargeNode’s journey began with the understanding of two things: First, there must be the ability to charge everywhere in the future. Secondly, the power will be limited, so it is important to distribute the power intelligently. Our customers usually have access to 63-100A in a parking lot and we are unique in being able to operate on such a low current. With centralized energy and charging control, we can ensure that all parking spaces in a facility get the right power at the right time.

Our electrical components are protected in a robust charging station?
How does it work?

All control and intelligence is centralized and distributes power to the right outlets. There can be up to 54 sockets connected to the same charging station. This allows us to make more industrial component choices and easily upgrade and replace parts that wear out. Moreover, the socket installation itself does not take up more space than just one socket. This means that charging sockets can be neatly integrated into the urban environment, for example in our beams and lighting bollards.

How do you see the future of EV charging and current charging systems?

In the near future, charging sockets will be as natural as regular wall sockets. But there won’t be unlimited power, so the available power will have to be distributed more intelligently, both at the local level and in society. The next few years will see a tremendous amount of change in terms of hardware, software and services. Which actors survive and do what in the food chain is not obvious. Authorities, energy companies and the automotive industry are also key players in creating the right conditions for charging. I believe we are an important part of this transition from fossil to sustainable. We are relatively young and agile and that will be required in the coming years.

What is centralized charging intelligence?

Our philosophy is to always charge each car as soon as possible and not to “smear” the available power. The benefit will be that we can prioritize the charges when the user wants it to be done and how much charge they want. And it only works with a centralized control of all ongoing charges. Our intelligence is centrally located and controls all sockets and charges. This allows us to prioritize and distribute ongoing charges at lightning speed and without the risk of poor communication between different charging stations.

What are we doing?

In our next generation of charging systems, which we have just rolled out, we have improved the old architecture mainly in terms of adapting for volume production, logistics and installation. The Gen4 system is smaller and lighter, but still has the same capacity of up to 66kW simultaneous charging. One of the new features is that we can connect anything from 9 to 54 charging points to the same charging station. We continue to charge the optimal number of cars, usually two to six vehicles depending on the available power on the service. We also open up the possibility of using all sockets at the same time, for example for engine heaters. Also in the pipeline is our first proprietary DC charging product and a more modularized charging hardware that will more than halve the installation time.

Finally, you drive an electric car yourself, but not just any car.

My cars are a passion, a racing hobby and a job. Long before the Polestar, I experimented with an electrically converted Smart. Now I have a 2-seater Renault Twizzy, which is one of the first electric cars. It is something of a rolling laboratory for both electric motor tuning and DC charging. Of course, I’ve sharpened the software and doubled the power, and now a battery and motor change is in order. For longer rides, however, I use my Polestar 2 Performance.