Why is doing well by doing good still a winning formula?

Clever and Implement Strategy

16 November 2022

Clever, the architect behind Denmark’s public charging infrastructure, aims to mitigate climate change by electrifying transport through green charging infrastructure.

The transport sector in Denmark is the country’s biggest eco-sinner. In 2019 it was responsible for 13.5 million tonnes of CO2e emissions, corresponding to ~30% of Denmark’s total emissions. Put differently, if emissions from the sector do not decrease substantially, we will not deliver on the government’s plan of a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions in Denmark by 2030, nor meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. 
The task ahead of us is clear: we need to significantly increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in Denmark to bring emission numbers down. But succeeding in adding more EVs to the streets relies on more than just lowering the registration fees compared to petrol-driven cars. It is equally important to make driving an EV convenient, and it must be easy for the consumer to charge and use the vehicle, but how can we ensure this? 
Enter Clever. Established in 2009, Clever is now the definitive Nordic market leader in EV charging solutions, offering the largest network of EV charging stations in Denmark. The company’s raison d’être is to establish a sustainable public charging infrastructure in Denmark. Consequently, Clever brings green solutions and infrastructure to the world and is instrumental in driving the sustainability agenda in Denmark, as well as in electrifying our society. With this aspiration, the company plays a key role in ensuring that driving an EV becomes a convenient and obvious choice in the everyday lives of consumers.

From no ocean at all to a red ocean for EV chargers

From 2009–2020, Clever has been on a truly successful journey, delivering a product that helps to mitigate climate change and managing to do well by doing good. However, when Clever first started back in 2009, the EV charger market in Denmark was close to non-existent and lacked business partners, investors and, most importantly, EVs. Today, things are very different. Market dynamics are shifting rapidly, and as the market has developed and become commercialised, the number of competitors in the EV charger market has grown. Hence, the challenge for Clever has shifted from developing and establishing a market from scratch to learning how to navigate and operate in today’s red ocean for EV chargers, with competitors emerging from all sides.

Looking beyond the increase in competitors, the consumer landscape has also become more sophisticated and fragmented. Today, some customer segments select their EV charging operator based on the convenience of the solution, such as whether the operator’s network is large enough for them to be able to charge their vehicle everywhere. At the same time, other segments are extremely price sensitive, with the main buying criteria being whether the operator offers the lowest price per MWh on the market.

Designing a future strategy to not only ensure but also sustain a competitive advantage

To take a more responsive approach to the new realities of Clever’s external environment, it was obvious that Clever’s strategic choices needed to be reviewed and updated based on a clear understanding of the future outlook for the industry. An updated strategy was needed. 
According to Michael Porter, “the essence of strategy is choosing to perform activities differently than your rivals”. Hence, it is rarely sufficient to lower prices, improve operations etc., as such initiatives can easily be imitated by the myriad of competitors in the EV market. Instead, Clever, in close collaboration with Implement, created four business unit strategies that seek to improve the entire customer experience at Clever, with the overarching aim of making “choosing Clever” the easiest decision for anyone driving or considering driving an EV. 
To develop such a strategy, market insights were gathered through interviews with key players in the industry and subject matter experts from Clever and Implement, as well as through extensive market analysis of the EV charging market in Denmark. 
Further, a range of strategic issues was investigated that sought to tackle the long list of future challenges and ensure that Clever would not only gain but also sustain a competitive advantage. Issues considered were ensuring long-term relevance through hardware improvements and smart chargers that are easily accessible via an app; differentiating the company from and competing with the myriad of direct competitors that are aggressively trying to disrupt the EV charger market through tech solutions; influencing current and upcoming regulatory policy to foster long-term relationships with public partners; and offering B2B solutions that are more flexible and financially attractive than those of competitors. The list goes on.

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