Effortless Electric Vehicle Charging

15/05/2021

Introducing an effortless electric vehicle charging experience from Paua.

The UK EV charging market is still at a relatively early stage of its development. Just over 1% of vehicles have a plug and 0.6% of cars are pure electric battery. The signals are that 10 to 15% of the market will go to full electric in the next few years so it’s a huge opportunity.

We need more accessible and effortless public EV charging to smooth the transition to electric vehicles and that public charging is an underserved need for the customer. This is evidenced by the Governments own surveys that identify that 54% of drivers identify public charging as a key barrier on their switch to EV.

Digital design and software can be better leveraged to create better outcomes from the EV chargepoint experience. The shining example of a consumer experience on EV charging infrastructure is Tesla.

Tesla has created the benchmark for the driving experience of helping get the passenger (s) from points A to B in a frictionless way. The value that Tesla has created is significant for the consumer. The major drawback is that it is a closed ecosystem. The Tesla driver sets off in their car with seamless digital support in the car showing chargers within range and the battery power consumed throughout the journey. The digital intelligence goes as far as warming up the car’s battery so as the driver approaches the charging point, the car can optimally receive electricity out of that charging point. It even has the functionality to be able to notify other drivers on a charge point to move if you as the driver is approaching. The incoming driver then pulls up to the charging point and plugs in. After plugging in, there is a digital handshake, it charges based on a preset payment.

Therefore there are no clunky payments or associated receipts. The benefits of the Tesla driving ecosystem are a sweet dream for drivers. A digital utopia when compared to the average experience.

The real world of where we are today with public EV charging has much work to reach the standards set by Tesla. Today’s drivers when charging in public are expected to pull up to a charger and find a way to authenticate and then pay. The minimum standard currently emerging is the credit card to confirm that they are able to pay and initiate the charge. In a digital era where we now have a connected car, smartphone and a connected EV charger we need to ask the hard question why are we still using credit cards? It appears like something from the 1980s. There must be a better way to improve the experience for the driver.

Surely, we can find a better method of engagement between the car, charge point and the user. The question we should ask is “How do we get the vast majority of electric car drivers, who are not Tesla customers, to be able to have a Tesla-style experience?”

Overall, we need to achieve the most accessible and effortless way for drivers to charge. Beneath the surface, there is tremendous complexity in connecting the infrastructure dots. It is essentially a fragmented ecosystem with over 70 operators of public charging infrastructure and a lot of hard engineering needed between points A and B. Furthermore the industry has to consider the complexity of combining, home charging (where available), on-street charging (where it is not) and depot charging for fleets. The number of actors required to collaborate and achieve that perfect experience is still far from our reach. But the job of any successful company in this space is to provide the best driver experience and that means simplifying this complexity.

Our preference is for the EV industry to work together to build an open ecosystem where EV drivers could transition from one provider’s ecosystem to the others. The rise of Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) and Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) will support this collaboration. Developed in Europe their slow progression to the UK will enable more access and sharing. Europe is a market leader in this regard. The Dutch don’t reach for a credit card for their public charging until they cross the border out of the country. This is what we need to achieve here in the UK.

These experiences and observations are what has led us to develop Paua; your partner on public charging.