For EV charging at scale, your platform is key
February 14, 2022
February 14, 2022
I confess, when it comes to eMobility, and particularly electric vehicle (EV) charging, I’m passionate about the platform!
I got involved in eMobility more than 6 years ago, first setting up and extending a charge point operator (CPO) and eMobility Service Provider (EMSP) business in The Netherlands, and later selling a cloud-based EV platform throughout Europe.
When I was asked to join an eMobility-related business, I started researching eMobility in earnest and found a disruptive market, a clear contributor to a net zero future, and overall, big opportunity.
I’ve never looked back.
I’ve also been driving an EV myself for several years. The technology wowed me from the outset: the features, the one-pedal-drive, the feeling of a computer on wheels!
But it’s not all plain sailing. When EVs first became available, range anxiety (i.e., how far you could drive in one go) was the key worry. And that’s before you manage to find a charging station, let alone a functioning one.
Fast-forward to today and the uptime of charging stations is still not good enough, with 1 in every 6 transactions going wrong. Uptime of charging stations relies on a combination of hardware, telecommunications and the EV platform that is used to operate the charging stations.
This is where the EV platform is pivotal: it keeps chargers functioning, solves errors remotely and handles charging station transactions.
So if it’s so crucial, how do you choose yours? Start by reading Accenture’s EV Charging Platforms Vendor Assessment 2.0, published here.
In this blog, the first in our EVolution blog series (where I’ll be joined by colleagues to explore the challenges and how to unleash growth in e-Mobility) I wanted to reflect on why charging is the bedrock for EVs at scale.
At the risk of stating the obvious, leaders everywhere increasingly understand that EVs are a vital contributor to a net zero future—but only if they’re adopted at scale. And with 30% of new vehicles expected to be electric by 2030, and a sweet spot of 10 vehicles per charge point, the stakes are high.
So as my clients increasingly look to play in the EV ecosystem, here’s what I tell them: above all, they’ll need to deliver a seamless charging experience. Think super convenient (and fast) charging; roaming effortlessly between networks, across cities, countries and technologies.
It’s doable. But it has to be underpinned by a robust EV charging platform that prioritises two things: making chargers operationally excellent and delivering on the promise of charging anytime, anywhere.
That means investing in your EV platform, thinking ahead and matching your business ambition to the technology. Many of my clients have already invested and placed their bets. And that’s ok. The eMobility journey is not linear, and evolution and scalability can come along that journey.
Here are three things I’m counselling my clients to do to as they think about their EV charging vendor options.
My clients often ask me: should I build or buy my EV charging platform?
Timing is one consideration: if your go-to-market speed is vital, you may want to buy a platform with proven, state-of-the-art features. But if you want to build in unique features tailored to your business, determine your own roadmap and prioritise the developments you find important, building may be a good option—and we can still help you accelerate your speed-to-market.
Many of my clients have already invested in a platform, by building it themselves or acquiring an EV platform company. Where that’s the case, we can still assess the maturity of that platform and/or platform requirements; and then define what clients need to build, improve, and test, as well as preparing for scale. That also means integrating the EV platform with existing systems, and customising for the client’s needs.
Here’s something I frequently discuss with my clients: the EV platform you choose or build determines what your business model can be. Why? Because the features it contains determine which use cases you can support and how sophisticated your offering can be.
For instance: do you want to offer sophisticated smart charging propositions into the marketplace? If so, does the platform you’re choosing offer smart charging features and cloud-based technologies? If not, you may inadvertently curtail your own business ambitions.
Overall, it pays to take your time to choose the right platform by keeping in mind the use cases (e.g., home charging, charging on the go) you want to support and to see if the platform is a good fit with your ambitions.
So let’s imagine you’re already operating in eMobility. How do you make sure your platform is prepared for scale? There are multiple things to think about: your software needs to be hardware agnostic, with both AC and DC chargers needing to be supported. It must also enable different payment methods, cybersecurity compliance and cloud-based smart charging, which allows you to smart charge different vendors and types of charging stations at the same time.
Just to highlight one important tool: bulk functionalities. As sales of EVs and demand for charging stations rise, EV platforms must be prepared to meet demand through bulk functionalities and a high focus on technical system performance.
So what does bulk functionality really mean? It’s about applying an ‘out of the box’ mentality to charging stations, pre-configuring equipment and unifying settings. It’s a huge shortcut to scale. Example: let’s say a tender comes out in a city for charging stations, tackling one area of the city at a time. If you have to commission each charging station individually, you have to configure each one separately.
But if you apply a unified (bulk) mindset, you can scale up and roll out a lot faster, delivering a set of charging stations all with the same settings at the same time.
It’s time for EV charging players to place their platform bets to make EVs and convenient charging a reality. And with the right EV charging platform, driven by the strategic aims of the business, charging is on the road to becoming seamless.
Contact me to talk more about the way forward and stayed tuned for the next blog in the EVolution blog series where I’ll be joined by my colleague to dive further into Scalability.