EV charging roaming interoperability to play a major role in pushing EV adoption
It is not very often that we see competing companies coming together to share their core technology and resources, especially when it can directly affect their business. Partnerships of this nature are now regularly happening in the EV charging infrastructure segment across major EV markets, where network operators are coming together and signing roaming interoperability, or 'eRoaming' agreements to make EVs more practical and affordable, thus accelerating their adoption. Interoperability pacts between operators basically allow an EV user to use various charging networks under different operators by taking membership with just one operator. While standards for physical charging plugs, such as CHaDEMO, CCS, GT/B, have been more or less decided across the world, interoperability is primarily for bringing together backend communication, payment and information sharing.
Impact on EV charging industry
Interoperability is aimed at addressing one of the biggest impediments to a steady growth in EV adoption - access to a charging point. No matter how high the range of an EV is on a single charge, there are always concerns regarding the number of charging stations of their subscribed network on long distance routes. Interoperability tries to mitigate these fears by making charging stations operator-agnostic for drivers. By having membership of a single charging operator, which has signed interoperability agreements, the driver can use that one membership to locate, access and pay for EV charging stations of various networks through one app or one RFID card. It also improves the overall user experience by offering more consistent service levels, easier billing management through one invoice for all charging and better financial transaction security.
"It's imperative that EV drivers feel comfortable with the range of an EV which means they need to know they can easily find, access and pay for charging with one app or RFID card. For mass EV adoption, the customer experience surrounding charging should be better than fueling a conventional car," Paul Glenney, Hubject's North American CEO, told IHS Markit. Hubject is an eRoaming charging platform set up in 2012 by BMW, Bosch, Daimler, EnBW, innogy, and Siemens. Started in Europe in 2012, Hubject began operations in the United States last year and now has over 300 members and 90,000 charging points connected to Hubject's platform. Some of the other eRoaming platforms operating in Europe include Gireve and e-clearing.net, and evRoaming4EU.
As much as these partnerships prove beneficial for EV users, interoperability brings about a lot of dividends for operators themselves. Most important being the higher customer retention for service providers due to improved user interface and also because of access to other networks. With more users―compared to captive customer base using the charger―there is increased charger utilization leading to better economics and faster return on investments for charging point operators (CPO). Charging service providers are also looking to expand operations into new areas, where e-mobility is fast taking wings, in as short a time as possible. Interoperability allows the companies to start operations in new regions by just partnering up with a network already present. This significantly reduces the time to market and the level of investments required for expansion.
However, roaming interoperability does bring a few complications, if not outright challenges, for the e-mobility service providers. Interoperability partnerships require maintenance of multiple IT connections that will vary by individual data configuration and features being offered. They will require constant maintenance and auditing as well as significant communication between back-end customer service departments. Partnerships also require regular billing and clearing between partners for driver roaming costs. This type of connection issues is likely to leave smaller network operators out in the cold as they will be deemed "not worth the effort," according to Glenney.
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The above article is from SupplierInsight by IHS Markit. SupplierInsight provides a wealth of original thought leadership, data, and analysis on a broad spectrum of automotive industry topics and sectors. Content includes news and analysis, topical reports, supplier profiles, and an automaker-supplier relations database across 13 domains. Visit SupplierInsight to view all our offerings.
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