The second aspect to consider is the payment method for charging the EV. There are various options available, including using a mobile app, a registered RFID card, the Plug&Charge protocol (when the car is registered with the charging system), SMS, or a payment terminal. While the first four options are more commonly used, the fifth option is the most user-friendly, as it replicates the familiar process of fueling a car. These options are typically managed by a Charge Point Management System (CPMS), which is usually a one-size-fits-all solution that has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on the specific use case. However, none of these systems are designed with the user experience in mind, unlike dedicated services we are accustomed to, such as those found in online shopping. Additionally, it’s important to realize that most of these methods are vendor-locked, which means that as a location owner, you may be limited to what the CPMS provider offers. Switching to a different provider could be challenging unless you make an informed decision early on. Please refer to this showcases on the options you have via ChargeBroker.
The third aspect of EV charging pertains to the proper termination of the charging session, which includes providing clear instructions to the driver on how to end the session and ensuring accurate communication of the incurred charges. The precise implementation of energy data, referred to as meter values in OCPP, is critical in all charging scenarios, spanning across home, B2B (Business to Business), B2C (Business to Consumer), or B2E (Business to Employee) charging. Notably, certain chargers have been observed to transmit meter values even after the session has ended.
Moreover, charging differs significantly from fueling due to the extended duration of the former, resulting in instances where the car occupies the charger without charging. This particular aspect may have adverse implications for the overall bill. Thus, notifying the driver when the charging is complete would help avoid surprises. However, the options for communicating such notifications, as described above, are not without their limitations, with apps being prone to silencing, SMS messages incurring additional costs, and other methods providing the driver with a bill instead.
This should be about it on the challenges of the EV driver. And that is just the “C” (Consumer) in the B2C. When considering the same processes from a “B” (Business) perspective, it becomes evident that the complexity increases considerably, even putting aside the device service and maintenance.
The process begins with the acquisition of EV chargers, which some businesses view as an opportunity to generate additional revenue, thus necessitating payment for energy consumption. Conversely, other businesses prioritize the convenience of attracting additional drivers and are less concerned with pricing, provided the drivers adhere to reasonable usage periods and purchase core business goods (as is the case with supermarkets). Nonetheless, for this process to work, an internet connection is necessary, which is often unavailable in the parking lots of businesses. Once the internet connection is established, pricing must be considered as electricity costs are no longer cheap. New sources of income must be arranged, and financial reporting must be balanced accordingly based on “energy” sales.
When operating the charger, the status becomes very important for the business. While drivers may view the status as simply available or unavailable, businesses must monitor the (real) OCPP status, such as Faulted/Inoperative, which indicates a physical error in the connector that cannot be resolved by resetting it. Similarly, Connected/Disconnected states of chargers may indicate unstable internet connections that could hinder operations. While specialized alerting services can manage these issues, in the EV world, the CPMS serves as the central system for monitoring charger statuses.
If the Business intends to incorporate EVs into its strategy to enhance customer loyalty and revenue, managing drivers becomes critical. For larger businesses, concepts like reservation and EV loyalty should be evaluated. Drivers should be introduced to a new, brand-specific EV experience, placing them at the core of a system that designates chargers and guarantees their availability. The charger control system must align with the data flow from/to the point of sale or virtual point of sale at the charger, as well as from/to the point of sale of the business/store itself. Once again, the same CPMS system must account for reservation schedules, loyalty programs, and POS integrations. While other SaaS solutions can decouple and delegate these responsibilities to specialized services, in EVs, the all-in-one solution must address them. This requirement may seem absurd, but it is necessary under most architectures. So this is actually a structural problem that hinders the growth of EVs through consumer business and of business through EV concepts.
To conclude, setting up electric vehicle charging infrastructure for medium and large charger fleets is a complex task that demands a deep comprehension of the challenges involved, and careful consideration of the options available from both the consumer and business standpoints. Businesses that aim to incorporate EVs into their strategies must evaluate these factors thoroughly and make informed decisions to develop a successful EV-based program.
Fortunately, with advanced technologies such as EV Charging Architecture 2.0, it is possible to overcome challenges effectively and build a robust and reliable charging infrastructure. While I have discussed several challenges of the current EV infrastructure setup, I have focused more on the difficulties than on the solutions. Therefore, in the upcoming article, I will delve into what EV Charging Architecture 2.0 entails and how it can benefit charger management.