Electric vehicles (EVs) are key to the energy transition—but only if they’re truly adopted at scale.
And the pressure is on. In Europe alone, EV rollout needs to accelerate 10-fold to deliver on Fitfor55 ambition, to reach 30 million zero-emission vehicles and 3 million public charging stations by 2030.
So if EV scalability is key, how do we achieve it collectively?
Johan van Kooten, Accenture European EV charging expert, and Andrea Regalia, Accenture Sustainable Mobility Lead, sat down to talk about this topic, inspired by Accenture’s EV Charging Platforms Vendor Assessment 2.0.
Johan: Andrea, why is EV scalability essential?
Andrea: We all know the energy transition is pressing, and eMobility is a key element of that, but scalability is the real Achilles’ heel at the moment. Range anxiety and the mismatch of EV sales and charging stations are seldom out of the news.
Scaling eMobility will require a whole new ecosystem of players, and hinges on the flexibility and functionality of the EV charging platform. I’m passionate about bringing industries together around eMobility to make this a reality at scale and address the many connected capabilities and effects—across intellectual property, cyber security, customer experience and grid resilience among others.
And if you’ll indulge me for a minute, I was a boy scout many years ago, and their motto of leaving the world a better place than you found it has stuck with me. I think it’s incumbent on all of us to try and play our part.
Johan: So how would you define scalability in the eMobility context?
Andrea: Scalability is about adapting the pace of your business to meet market demand. And the metrics and indicators of that ramp-up may not always be the most obvious ones. In the EV market, charge point operators (CPOs) are busy installing charging stations, and having more feels like scalability in action, right? But it’s only true scalability if the operations exist to support those charging stations—think customer experience, billing, interoperability between networks and so on.
Because the automotive industry can’t scale up sales of EVs if the infrastructure doesn’t support them. CPOs stand to lose money if there are not enough EVs using their charging stations, if customers don’t have sufficient visibility of the charging stations in their area, and are not empowered to use them all. Meanwhile, energy providers have to manage demand and deliver price predictability for the customer.
Seamless customer experience is crucial, and something many companies are struggling to deliver even at small-to-moderate scale. If huge numbers of users are added, will that customer experience scale seamlessly too, to keep people engaged and avoid an avalanche of calls for support?
Johan: Why do you see scalability as a particularly important topic right now?
Andrea: Here and now, scalability isn’t cutting it, with many CPOs on one hand struggling to install tens or hundreds of charging stations per month and on the other hand grappling with operating them and providing a seamless customer experience. The question is: how can we really accelerate this and position CPOs for scale when it comes to people, processes and systems? Tellingly, the charging station/EV mismatch is prompting some to advocate for policy interventions regulation around the ratio, as a response to uneven rollout across regions of the United Kingdom, for example.
Against this backdrop, at the simplest level, I am advising my clients to consider two things:
#1: Partner, partner, partner!
The EV market can feel fragmented, with start-ups jostling alongside established companies setting up new business units. But to scale EV offerings, players in the ecosystem need to partner in new ways and more holistically.
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It may mean looking at teaming up with start-ups in innovative ways, or prioritizing acquisition. Accenture research shows partnerships are one of five essential pillars for energy providers to drive future value, with 80% of energy providers planning to partner with established businesses to develop new customer-centric innovations, and a further 75% looking to acquire start-ups with promising new innovation.
And industry convergence is at the heart of all this, with the ecosystem needing to include automotive, energy providers, billing, battery and storage experts, customer experience experts and so on.
#2: Prepare your EV platform for scale
For scalability, the EV charging platform is key (read some other thoughts about that here!).
Look explicitly at a platform solution that will support scalability, and give a high degree of technical system performance. This is likely to involve bulk functionalities: rolling out pre-configured, more standardised charging stations installations (as the antidote to commissioning one by one).
How does this work in practice? It means commissioning charging stations as a group, with the same settings. It makes rollout much faster and simpler, and enables predictive maintenance and automatic error handling.
But the most tangible improvement is for the customer, enabling a far smoother ‘plug and play’ type of approach, reducing customer calls to the helpdesk too.
Johan: What other takeaways do you have for players in the EV ecosystem?
Andrea: Above all, I’m counselling my clients to define their target play and market and use case focus, and determine their strategy accordingly.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’re a CPO and want to sell a subscription service for charging. The package you design is a four-year subscription, with home charger installation, renewable energy tariff and on-the-go charging. But maybe most company cars run on a three-year contract. If that’s the case, you’re misaligning the offering with the market and the intended audience.
In this type of fast-moving scenario, it also pays to adopt an experimentation mindset; a ‘fail fast’ approach, if you like. New ideas are vital given, ultimately, eMobility is about more than just EVs. The ecosystem will continue to expand: think firefighters being trained to manage EV accidents differently; home insurance that accounts for home charging; charging stations as rescue points for broken down drivers—or even becoming citizen-focused kiosks enabling access to more services. All enabled by 5G connectivity.
It’s time to address EV scalability in a strategic and coordinated way for the EVolution we need. Contact us to talk more about what comes next.