Park&Charge: an answer to the public EV charging challenge
Following the launch last week of Flowbird Park&Charge, we caught up with Group Product Manager for E-Mobility, Fredrik Maller. We asked for his insight into the market needs for public EV charging and how Park&Charge has been developed to address them.
Read our interview with Fredrik:
What research led to the development of Park&Charge?
With parking terminals on the ground in more than 4,350 cities around the world, Flowbird is perfectly placed to add charging capability to parking spaces.
We’ve invested time in listening to our customers and developing a deep awareness of the problems cities face. It’s vital to understand the hurdles they need to overcome to deliver the scale and service-level of EV infrastructure that’s needed in the near future.
Our customers in regions that are more mature with e-mobility solutions talked to us about their challenges. Dependent on the region, these sometimes centre around the fragmentation of EV ecosystems, with city-owned and CPO-managed infrastructure lacking a standard approach to service delivery, payments, maintenance and customer service.
For the best part of a year, we engaged with customers and consultants, and visited lots of conferences and events to meet all types of players in the e-mobility ecosystem (eMSPs, CPOs and platform providers). It was at this point that we began to feed all our learning into a plan for a new product that we think answers all the market’s needs: Park&Charge.
Can you explain what market needs you identified?
For the city, political pressure is mounting to drive rapid growth of EV infrastructure. With net zero deadlines looming and countries around the world calling time on sales of petrol and diesel cars, the shift to e-mobility is gaining pace.
Directives like the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) in the EU are enforcing by law that cities dramatically improve the availability of working publicly accessible parking and charging facilities and roll-out user-friendly functionality like combined payments using a contactless card or mobile device. Cities urgently need to address the ‘how’ and ‘when’ of how they can tick all of these mandated requirements ahead of strict deadlines.
Ultimately, they must provide a service that improves charger utilisation rates. This involves an overhaul of the parking and charging user experience, so it becomes effortless. Some of the key ingredients are easy access to park and charge stations, charger reliability, standard pricing, simple payments, and a single point of contact for customer support.
What has been the most exciting aspect of developing Park&Charge?
I’ve had an amazing opportunity to work with colleagues and partners to create a genuinely innovative product and design a unique business model. Partnerships are integral to our hardware agnostic Park&Charge platform, and it’s been rewarding to build relationships with the leading charger hardware brands, integrating 100s of charger models.
Which hardware charger brands have come onboard?
To deliver an end-to-end solution, we need high quality partners that we can rely on for charging hardware and installation.
We’re excited to have brands like CTEK, Chargenode, Wallbox, Circontrol and Keba already onboard, offering quality equipment that can cater for every public charging scenario: on-street, off-street, in workplaces and destinations.
What makes Flowbird perfectly placed to lead the rollout of parking and charging?
Parking is a mature business and Flowbird has been the leading provider of terminals and parking systems for decades. Our parking app also celebrated its 10th birthday recently. With this long history and deep experience in the sector, Flowbird can apply a lot of knowledge to the evolution of parking spaces into park and charge stations.
How is Park&Charge unique in the marketplace?
The headline benefit is the flexible, scalable platform we provide, which enables a range of integrations. Our open platform is hardware agnostic, which means any charger can be connected with standard protocols. It can also connect to any payment channel, including Flowbird terminals and apps and those of integrated third-parties.
In addition, any other CPO or partner can integrate to the platform to offer our payment solutions. Importantly, in terms of compliance with AFIR, our terminals enable ad hoc card payments for parking and charging combined.
Have you consulted with Flowbird customers to test the appetite for Park&Charge?
Yes, and the response has been fantastic. Many customers are confirming that we are on the right track with the product and that it offers valuable features for the city. Cities that have a mixed environment of Charge Point Operators and charging brands are looking for unified solutions not bound to a specific brand or supplier, and that’s what Park&Charge delivers.
What are the top 3 benefits of Park&Charge for cities?
- A single solution for both parking and charging
- Totally hardware agnostic platform solution
- Unification of the charging ecosystem
What are the top 3 benefits of Park&Charge for drivers?
- ‘As you go’ card payments in app or using a terminal
- A single app for parking and charging
- One customer support contact
Be the first to read our e-mobility whitepaper
Our forthcoming whitepaper, ‘An essential guide for cities on the journey towards effective public charging’, explores the challenges facing city parking authorities and operators as they roll-out e-mobility infrastructure. It looks at the hurdles to delivering effective public charging services and how to overcome them. Get on our waitlist to receive the whitepaper as soon as it’s published.