Six Trends in the Evolution of the e-Mobility Market
It’s exciting to be on the ground floor in an industry that’s changing all aspects of the world –improving air quality, reducing dependency on fossil fuels, and speeding the adoption of renewable energy sources, but it requires the flexibility to flow with conditions as they evolve. Here are six trends we’ve been seeing as part of the evolution of the e-Mobility industry.
1. International & National Initiatives Driving Adoption
Adoption of electric vehicles is becoming a focus of governments worldwide. Despite their declining prevalence, internal combustion engine (ICE)-based vehicles still account for almost 60 percent of the world’s air pollution. Furthermore, the lockdowns during COVID-19 demonstrated how quickly pollution can be reduced with fewer ICE vehicles on the road. Many governments are using their COVID-19 recovery packages as a lever to reinforce efforts to tackle climate change.
The European Union’s “Green Deal” includes the installation of one million charging points as part of its recovery package of €750 billion focusing on cleaner transport and logistics. In Germany, as part of its €130 billion coronavirus stimulus package, petrol stations are now required to install electric charging points. Germany has also doubled its subsidy to €6,000 for electric vehicles that cost less than €40,000. France may be offering up to €7,000 toward the purchase of EVs, based on a recovery-focused proposal from President Emmanuel Macron.
China’s EV subsidy program was set to expire in 2020, but it has been renewed until 2022. The United States is offering a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles, as long as they meet specific criteria, including using an external plug-in source to recharge. California, which has the fifth largest economy in the world, has further strengthened its focus on driving electric vehicle adoption with its recent law requiring trucks to be zero emissions by 2045.
2. New Ecosystem Entrants
Oil and gas companies and utilities are realizing the significant opportunities available in the e-Mobility market.
Oil and gas companies already have a competitive advantage when it comes to adopting e-Mobility even beyond the fact that EV drivers prefer gas station-based charging, according to a recent study. Oil and gas companies not only have brand awareness, branded credit cards, thousands of fueling sites, and strong customer loyalty – they also have additional profit centers that enhance the customer charging experience – 24/7 convenience stores with restrooms and video security.
As the power source, utilities have multiple options by which to engage in the e-Mobility market. On the commodity-level, they can supply the energy for charging and work directly with regulatory agencies to create new EV charging pricing structures to support transportation electrification. They can build strategic partnerships with key players in the industry: automakers, fleet operators, charge point operators, parking lot owners and others. As they already own the customer relationship with a presence in every home in their target geography, they can leverage those relationships to provide home and branded public charging stations or enter new markets to become full-service e-Mobility solution providers, installing, operating, and maintaining EV charging networks and offering remote charging apps, integrated home- and EV-energy management, payment processing, and even EV purchase financing.
Many utilities and oil and gas players have taken these steps. MOL Group, an international oil and gas company headquartered in Budapest, currently operates chargers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Romania, with plans that by the end of 2020, their customers will be able to charge from the Adriatic and Black seas to the Czech border. With this expansion, they’ll be a dominant player in the EV market in central and southeast Europe. CEZ Group, a global conglomerate whose operations include natural gas and coal extraction, has expanded its EV charging footprint across the Czech Republic.
Centrica, which supplies electricity and gas to consumers in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and North America, not only has become an e-Mobility service provider, but it is transforming all of its fleets to electric vehicles, as well.
3. Changes in Charging Behavior
While the early adopters of electric vehicles had to go through the extra steps of installing home chargers to ensure their EV batteries were fully charged, EV charging infrastructure is now more widespread, not only reducing range anxiety but also directly addressing convenience. The EV charging infrastructure has been extended to more locations, such as multidwelling units, shopping malls, office parking lots, and public charging hubs.
Retailers and restaurants are adding charging points and seeing an increase in consumer traffic. Greater London has almost 8,000 public charge points across the city. EVgo is working with automotive industry partners, including GM and Nissan, to expand its fast charging network across the United States, which will further reduce range anxiety. EVgo’s infrastructure already serves more than 200,000 customers across 34 states.
4. Fleet Electrification
Many organizations are already moving their fleets to electric vehicles to reduce TCO, benefit from tax cuts or subsidies, comply with national regulations or policies, avoid pollution penalties, or implement social responsibility programs targeted toward reducing carbon emissions.
California and Centrica aren’t alone in promoting and adopting fleet electrification. Amazon has ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans, while the city of London tested electric delivery vans for emissions performance with the goal of replacing diesel vehicles.
On the heavy vehicles front, with only two electric buses, the city of Chicago has reduced fuel and maintenance costs by more than $50,000 and healthcare costs from poor air quality by $110,000 per year. China has 90,000 full electric buses, with others on the way. More than 4,000 electric buses are in service around Europe, with 100 in operations around Amsterdam’s Schipol airport. Rotterdam has been committed to replacing its city’s fleets with electric vehicles since 2010. New York City has implemented a fleet of Mack electric garbage trucks, and Daimler and Penske trucks are being used for live beta testing in California.
5. Demand for excellent EV driver experiences
With traditional gas stations, people expect to pull up to the pump, pay, and go – unless they want to patronize the convenience store or use the facilities. e-Mobility providers must deliver the same convenient, satisfying customer experiences as well.
At this point, electric vehicle charging sites are fewer and farther between than traditional fueling stations, which means charging on the go requires real-time access to maps showing charger locations and availability. That makes EV charger locations and reservations very important – one feature of many that needs to be included in EV driver self-service tools. Furthermore, EV drivers need to be able to charge anywhere, even if they aren’t on their usual charging provider’s network, which makes roaming critical. Of course, all chargers need to be in working order when customers arrive to charge their vehicles.
For example, the EVgo app allows its customers to filter sites based on vehicle charging compatibility, save their “favorite” sites, and get real-time charger status, among other features.
When it comes to EV driver self-service tools overall, transparency needs to be a focus. Consumers need to fully understand the types of fees they are paying, from price per kWh to price per minute or a flat fee, and whether these come with connection fees or others. The portals must provide access to real-time billing, insights into charging activities, and simple payment. It should also make it easy to settle disputes.
Electric vehicle owners demand the highest levels of customer service. Allowing for easy ratings of their experience and collecting feedback will ensure e-Mobility providers can meet those standards.
6. Energy management optimization
The EV charging industry as a whole is developing a variety of ways to manage the excess demand on the grid that will come with increasing adoption of electric vehicles. Two avenues they are exploring are smart energy management and vehicle to grid (V2G) charging.
Smart energy management optimization requires finding a balance within the grid among the regular demand for power, the volume of electric vehicles being charged during various hours of the day and night, and the locations of charging stations. Smart energy management also takes into account how to optimize pricing based on customer type, business rules, plans encouraging smart charging during non-peak hours, and penalties for overtaxing the grid.
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging is another avenue being explored, where the batteries from the EVs are used to feed the grid during peak hours, with the vehicles being recharged during non-peak hours. V2G simultaneously lowers grid operating costs while minimizing the need for capital expenditures. V2G allows EVs to charge during the day from renewable energy sources, such as solar, and then feed that power back to the grid during the evening.
V2G is already being tested in Denmark through cooperation with Nissan. Nissan has also implemented V2G much closer to home by allowing EV drivers to discharge power from their EVs to pay for parking in its Nissan Pavilion exhibition space. The Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam has two-way charging stations that not only power the stadium during the games but are also timed so that the vehicles are recharged and ready to return home at the end of the game.
V2G power can be redirected further, with fleet vehicles providing power to the corporate site, reducing the need for grid power altogether. V2G does require compliance with ISO 15118, an international standard defining the V2G communication interface for bidirectional charging and discharging of electric vehicles.
Over time, e-Mobility operators and service providers, driven by public demand and governmental legislation, will embrace these trends. As the industry continues to adopt the changes to come, they, the public, the environment, and governments all stand to gain.