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Palantir and WEJO team up on OS for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

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WEJO CEO Richard Barlow and Palantir COO Shyam Sankar join Yahoo Finance Live to discuss EV charging infrastructure, A.I. technology to assist in wide-scale EV charging logistics, and working alongside utility companies.

Video Transcript

EMILY MCCORMICK: Palantir and the mobility data firm Wejo are deepening their relationship in the electric vehicle space. Today, Wejo unveiled the availability of the electric vehicle infrastructure operating system through the Palantir Foundry. And here to discuss this latest iteration of the partnership between these two companies is Richard Barlow, CEO of Wejo, and Shyam Sankar, chief operating officer of Palantir. Yahoo Finance's own Pras Subramanian is also stopping by for this discussion.

Thank you all for being here. Richard, I'll start with you on this. Tell us who you're targeting to have use this EV infrastructure operating system and what kinds of problems this could actually solve.

RICHARD BARLOW: So we're targeting network operators. We're targeting retailers, utilities providers, and energy companies, and all-- a whole host of organizations, including government, who need to understand where to install EV infrastructure. In 2019, 29% of all-- of all city emissions came from vehicles, and EVs are now-- are now being introduced not as fast as they should be to reduce those emissions. We've now built with Palantir an operating system where a whole suite of agencies, of network operators, and utility providers can now establish exactly where to install infrastructure.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Apologies, I muted it. My bad. Shyam, this is Pras here. What exactly is the data problem that exists with EV charging and infrastructure, and how does Palantir's Foundry product help with that?

SHYAM SANKAR: Well, thank you for having me. So that's a great question. You're dealing with enormous multitrillion-scale data sets that depict where the demand for EV charging is not only today, but where is it going to be in the future based on the empirical, real-world usage of vehicles out there. Plus, you have the incredible infrastructure overlay. Like, where can I even put infrastructure based on the grid, based on the dynamics? What will the cost of it be? You know, how do you really pioneer the intersection of those things, one of which is corporate, proprietary data with, Wejo's unique data access-- asset on the vehicles to drive this sort of decision making?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: So Richard, I'm curious how this product then, this combination-- this OS, if you will-- can actually alleviate this deep problem that we have in this country with the lack of charge plugs across, you know, a number of localities and states.

RICHARD BARLOW: Well, one of the things we want-- we want to break is this myth around range-- range anxiety. There's this view that EVs at the moment don't have enough-- enough kilowatts. That's not true. We understand. We've collected over 13.2 trillion data points. We've collected over 500 billion miles of data from vehicles driving around, including over-- over 300,000 EVs. We know how vehicles are being driven day in, day out. And the typical journeys are sub-50 miles per day per-- per vehicle.

So it doesn't need to be a fundamental change of fuel companies with-- with hundreds of charging points in-- on site. What there needs to be is a more intelligent approach. So for example, with our OS, we can now work with energy companies, we can work with consumers of vehicles, so that if they plug the vehicle in overnight, not all vehicles at the same time in the same area are charging at the same time.

That would put a huge pressure on the-- on the infrastructure, on the grid, whereas actually, by having a live OS, we can say, 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM, this group of vehicles are charging. 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM-- this group of vehicles. And then there's enough charge in all the vehicles for them then to do the day's journey required, the following day's journeys required, rather than completely-- rather than unnecessarily filling up a vehicle's complete battery life.

BRAD SMITH: Shyam, from a partnership like this, for Palantir, what kind of revenue opportunity could that even create in the future?

SHYAM SANKAR: Well, what we love about working with Richard and the team at Wejo is just their ambition, the speed at which they've been able to move by building applications on top of Foundry. They announced Neural Edge, which is cutting-edge AI technology that leverages what we've built together to run on every-- every potential car out there.

Last month, just this month, you now see this entirely new product being birthed. We think that the revenue opportunity here is quite large. What AWS was to developers last decade, Foundry really will be to developers this decade.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Hey, Shyam, quick follow-up here. Do you think that this product is actually more for governments than it is for-- for private enterprise, like OEMs and charge companies, because of the fact that there's such a huge, you know, opportunity to use public land? You know, here in Brook-- here in New York, they're going to-- they're going to open a huge space in Brooklyn just for public charging for a lot of people to use their EVs there. So what do you think about that? Is that what the opportunity is?

SHYAM SANKAR: I think it's going to be multi-stakeholder and really at the intersection. Richard talked about utilities. That's-- that's an obvious and big one, and it's really kind of their primary charge. But large corporations, energy companies who are transitioning from oil and gas to renewables, have a big play to make here. A lot of their gasoline infrastructure, gas station infrastructure, needs a new purpose. And at the intersection of that will be public lands, public funding, the equitable priorities that governments have in order to make sure this infrastructure is available to all.

EMILY MCCORMICK: Richard, in terms of data privacy, do electric vehicle and EV infrastructure customers actually have to opt in to provide this data, or is this something that Wejo and Palantir have automatic access to now through this operating system?

RICHARD BARLOW: No, not at all. The 11.9 million vehicles we have live on platform, we have individual consents. We actually have visibility of over 50 million vehicles, and the 11.9 million vehicles is where we have clear consent from the driver, who said they'd like to share the-- the battery data of their vehicle or their location to identify a parking space. We're very much around what we call data for good-- a very clear, transparent approach with drivers, with owners of vehicles, that they have given consent for their data to be shared in return for something such as having charging on demand for their vehicle or identifying this parking space.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Hey, Richard, one last, quick question. From what the data is showing you guys at Wejo, where some of the best parts of a municipality or city to place these charge points?

RICHARD BARLOW: At home. At home is the best place. People are doing less than 50 miles a day of journeys. Yeah, sure, there should be demand in cities. They should-- the fuel-- fueling stations should-- should be investing in infrastructure.

But actually, in terms of what the grid should be doing, the grid should be focused on-- on how they can educate home users, people when they're at home, about when they should be charging their EV up. So they don't just plug their EV in and leave it. There needs to be more of an on-demand approach, which-- which Palantir and Wejo's OS can do by informing the grid about when an EV should be charged or not charged.