Electric vehicles are becoming more popular every day. So much so that we often forget that the entire infrastructure supporting EVs is less than a decade old. In many ways, best practices for electric vehicles are still being defined and honed. But, in order to create a better EV driving experience, we first need to get some input from those driving EVs today .
That's why, at the 2019 REVOLUTION conference in Amsterdam, we leapt at the opportunity to pulse this audience of dedicated EV advocates and pick their brains about how we as an industry could make driving EV a simpler, and more accessible choice. In a brainstorming session co-hosted by ChargePoint, two of the top EVSE manufacturers sat back and listened.
Here is what the attendees had to say.
5 innovative ways we can make charging your EV as easy as charging your phone
1. Reserve a charging station
Reservations are not a new concept. We reserve tables at restaurants, seats at movie theaters, rooms at a hotel—basically anytime we need to know that, when we get to our destination, they have space for us. So why not do that with EV charging?
Yes, it’s great to have an app that tells you where all the charging stations nearby are located, but who’s to say it will still be available by the time you arrive? One popular idea was adding the ability to reserve a charging spot prior to arrival, thereby ensuring that you’ll be able to charge when you get there.
While this idea exists in a limited capacity within certain networks, there is no overarching reservation system that allows you to safeguard your ability to charge at any networked charging station. However, through interoperability and participation within the industry, this is certainly achievable.
2. Universal payment system
There are a number of different EV charging providers right now, and each one has its own app. This can become a bit of a headache for drivers, who often need to have upwards of 5 different apps just to feel confident that they can charge up anywhere they go.
Instead, drivers would prefer the ability to select a single app and know that, no matter where they choose to charge, they could access the station using their app—like using an ATM. This type of “roaming” system is already possible, and is starting to gain a lot of momentum. In fact, EVBox and ChargePoint have recently signed a roaming agreement, allowing interoperability between our stations and applications.
Pretty cool, right?
3. Five star rating system for locations
Today we have a five-star rating system for basically everything. Restaurants, hotels, movies, apps, products—everything. But not for EV charging stations. Another thing drivers want is the ability to give the charging stations they visit a ranking, and also see the ratings of every charging station they use. This would help drivers ensure that, when they do pull into a spot to charge, that the site has been verified by other drivers as clean, safe, and reliable. What’s more, this would also incentivize locations to keep their charging spots presentable.
4. App / car syncing
Many EV apps right now let you create a user profile where you include the make/model of your car. This allows the app to show you only the stations that are compatible with your car (i.e., no Tesla stations if you’re driving a Nissan). But what if the app itself paired with your actual car? So, not only would the app know what type of station best suited your needs, but understood exactly how much range you had remaining on your battery at any given moment.
With that kind of info, your app could show you only the stations that are within range, and determine how long it would take you to charge back up to full at a given location. It could even plan entire road trips, helping you select locations along your route and plot out a worry-free trip. With these kinds of insights, it would become much easier for EV drivers to hit the road with confidence.
5. Real-time updates (available power at site, price comparison)
Most EV charging apps display the kW output of the stations on their app—but that number is typically static. However, when a number of cars are charging simultaneously, the actual kW output decreases to accommodate for every active session, which means longer charging times. If the app showed the actual station output in real time, as opposed to just the maximum, this would help drivers get a more accurate understanding of how long it would take for them to charge.
On top of that, drivers would also appreciate flexible pricing options at stations where the output varies. This would mean a pricing model based off both time and kW. So, a car charging at 3.7 kW would be paying less per minute than a car charging at 7.4 kW. And while at many locations, variable pricing is already happening, what doesn’t occur as of now is a visible change in the app showing ahead of time what those disparate rates are.
So those are most popular ideas from the REVOLUTION brainstorming session. Some pretty good ideas, too!
What do you think? Got any great ideas that you think would help make driving an EV a little bit easier?
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