Ricky Hill is a country manager for Monta, the electric vehicle charging platform. Here he discusses the importance of interoperable, durable and accessible charging points to meet the Government’s targets for EV adoption.
Earlier this year, the Department of Transport and the Zero Emissions Vehicles Ireland office (ZEVI) published the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy 2022 to 2025.
Part of the strategy is to significantly increase the public network of charge points (CPs) with a view to increasing electric vehicle (EV) adoption as the Government seeks to solve ‘range anxiety’. This is a hugely positive step forward and it will be exciting to see this delivered over the coming years.
However, increasing CP infrastructure is only one part of increasing EV adoption. It is also important to consider the software that powers and manages CPs to drive a positive experience and help accelerate EV adoption.
Here are some ways to achieve this:
Chargers that work
This is a simple point to make but the most important – there are far too many stories of drivers arriving at CPs to find that they don’t work or that the charge fails. A recent study by J D Power of 26,500 charging attempts in the US revealed at least 1 in 5 charging attempts failed last year. This mirrors our observations in Europe.
The reasons listed for the failures include that the charger was out of service, software glitches, payment processing errors and vandalism
While there are others more qualified to explain how to prevent vandalism, there are a number of solutions for the other three.
All software should have a near 100pc successful charge rate and have features such as issues reporting and self-healing that pick up when there are glitches or processing errors, and run diagnostics and issue fix commands so the charger is continuously up and running. The onus is on software providers to make this a basic standard for the industry.
In the context of EV charging, interoperability means that EV drivers can use different charging stations, regardless of the charging station’s operator (CPO), the back-end software they use or the make and model of the EV.
Interoperability provides EV drivers with more options for charging their vehicle. This means that they are not limited to specific charging stations or networks, which can be important when traveling long distances or in areas with limited charging infrastructure.
A flexible system can also help reduce costs for both EV drivers and charging station operators. When charging stations are interoperable, they can share usage data and billing information, which can streamline the payment process and reduce administrative costs.
Another advantage of an agnostic system is a better driving experience because drivers do not need a plethora of apps and accounts to charge at the various charging stations.
I’m sure every EV driver has asked “Why can’t all of this be in one app? Why can’t one RFID card work with every charger?”
In short, it should, and we should be working towards this but, unfortunately, many CPOs have opted to be ‘closed networks’ that block interoperability.
There are approximately 2,500 CPs on the public network in Ireland. Recent Monta research estimates that there are 60,000 private CPs in Ireland.
The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) estimates that there are over 80,000 fully electric and hybrid electric vehicles on Irish roads, with 29 different manufacturers or makers of electric cars that are on sale in Ireland.
SIMI research showed that electric cars sales nearly doubled to about 16,000 in 2022. This year, with sales so far up another 50pc, it is expected that more than 20,000 new electric vehicles will be sold.
In a perfect world there are enough charge points for all EVs so no waiting is required. However, as more and more EVs arrive on the roads, there are an increasing amount of queues at charging sites and this drives a huge amount of frustration for EV drivers.
In one incident at a Tesla charging site in the UK last December, drivers were waiting hours to charge.
Advanced CPOs solve these and other issues with features such as smart queuing and reservation systems that improve the overall experience for EV drivers and should be part of future CP infrastructure plans.
Charging infrastructure is key to EV adoption. By improving the user experience, we can encourage more people to switch to EVs, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and create a more sustainable future.
By Ricky Hill
Ricky Hill is the Monta country manager for Ireland and the Netherlands. Monta is an EV charging platform that provides an app for car owners and a management system for charge point owners.
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