Sanna Otava on Kempower's Sustainable EV Charging Solutions

Sanna Otava, COO of electronics manufacturer Kempower, discusses how the Finnish company is leading sustainable EV charging technology development

Sanna Otava is the Chief Operating Officer at Kempower, a Finnish company dedicated to designing and manufacturing reliable fast-charging solutions for electric vehicles. In 2023, Kempower achieved an annual revenue exceeding €100m.

In her role, Otava oversees global operations, encompassing supply chain management, production and order-to-delivery processes. Beyond operational leadership, she also champions Kempower's sustainability efforts. 

“We're committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 through a comprehensive strategy focused on climate impact reduction, responsible product development and fostering a best-in-class workplace for our future-oriented professionals.”

Here, Otava tells us more about electric vehicle charging and product development.

 

Hi Sanna, tell us, what led you to this industry?

“My journey to the EV industry began at Kemppi, a family-owned company with shared ownership ties to Kempower. While leading strategy-related projects there, I had the opportunity to witness Kempower's inception and initial development.

“My background in both business and operations development resonated strongly with Kempower's mission. I saw it as an exceptional platform to design and implement an operational model capable of scaling alongside the burgeoning EV market.

“Furthermore, I firmly believe that modern leadership principles and an open company culture are fundamental to fostering high employee satisfaction, which serves as the cornerstone of any successful organisation. Building a company from the ground up presented an ideal opportunity to cultivate this kind of environment right from the start.”

 

Tell us about the EV charging market.

“The EV charging market is currently experiencing explosive growth, fueled by a confluence of factors: surging EV sales, supportive government policies worldwide and rising environmental consciousness. 

“In Europe, where regulatory support for EVs is particularly robust, the market size reached over US$300bn in 2022 and is projected to surge at a 16% CAGR by 2032. This growth is mirrored by the trend in the US, where increasing EV sales fueled by government incentives and growing environmental awareness are propelling the market towards more than US$80bn by 2024 and an estimated US$160bn by 2028.

“Beyond sheer size, the EV charging market is undergoing a wave of diversification. New business models are emerging to cater to different needs and preferences. These include DC fast charging hubs offering rapid energy replenishment, smart workplace charging solutions designed for employee convenience and flexible residential options tailored for home-based charging. 

“Despite its promising future, the EV charging market faces challenges that need to be addressed. Bridging the gap between the accelerating adoption of EVs and the availability of charging stations, particularly in rural areas and for high-power charging options, is critical. Additionally, ensuring seamless charging experiences across different networks and connector types is crucial for user adoption and convenience.  

“Retailers play a key role in providing convenient public charging infrastructure where drivers already are. Kempower recently announced a groundbreaking collaboration with Sainsbury’s, one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK. Sainsbury’s will have over 750 bays with Kempower fast-chargers in more than 100 Sainsbury’s locations by the end of 2024. It’s partnerships like these that make a valuable contribution in the transition to low-carbon economies.”

Tell us about the fast charging solutions you design and manufacture.

“At Kempower, we're not just building fast charging solutions. Our innovative designs prioritise ultimate power, effortless user experience and a commitment to a green future.

“Kempower's modular approach to fast charging empowers customers to create the perfect solution for their specific needs. Whether they require the lightning-fast 400kW DC charging ideal for highway hubs or versatile power combinations for workplace or residential settings, we have the flexibility to match such requirements. Our modularity allows scaling up seamlessly as needs evolve, saving time and money on costly infrastructure overhauls.

“We also develop the software to go with our chargers. Our Kempower ChargEye cloud-based platform connects drivers to their charging sessions like never before. With real-time tracking and effortless mobile payment options, Kempower ChargEye puts control and convenience literally in the palm of the EV driver’s hand.

“Kempower is committed to a greener future. Our solutions are designed for energy efficiency and seamless integration with renewable energy sources. This minimises strain on the grid and maximises the utilisation of clean energy, aligning perfectly with ambitious goals like the EU Green Deal.”


Your product development and production are rooted in Finland, while your materials and components are sourced locally. How are you keeping the supply chain going?

“At Kempower, we understand the critical role a robust and responsible supply chain plays in our success. While our product development and production are proudly rooted in Finland, securing reliable materials and components goes beyond mere geographical proximity. Collaborating with subcontractors based in Lahti, Finland and Durham, North Carolina, provides us with several advantages - local partners enable quicker reaction times to any challenges and allow us to adapt efficiently to evolving needs. We've established a strategic approach that balances the benefits of a local supply chain with the efficiency and reach of global sourcing.

“At Kempower, we firmly believe that a strong, responsible supply chain is not just about securing materials; it's about collaborating for a positive impact. ESG principles are deeply embedded within our supply chain management. We actively seek partners who share our commitment to sustainability.”


What do the next 12 months hold for you and the company?

“The next year at Kempower promises further growth and innovation. As COO, I'm focused on strengthening our global operations and entering new markets. Our new Lahti factory opens this spring, boosting production. We're also launching next-generation chargers with silicon carbide technology for faster charging.

“Our vision is to be the world's most desired EV charging provider. To achieve this, we'll solidify our position in public charging, win over retailers and leading CPOs, and grow in the commercial fleet market, especially e-trucks. We're also exploring further geographical expansion and continue investing in cutting-edge software and services.

“By leveraging our strengths, embracing innovation, and collaborating with partners, we're confident in making a significant impact on the future of electric mobility.”

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