Picture an orchestra with no conductor. Each instrument sounds great on its own, but when each musician is playing their own song at the same time, no one wants to listen. When no one buys tickets, the concert hall loses money.
This is what’s happening in Europe’s execution of e-mobility. Multiple vendors are executing on many needs of the EV charging ecosystem. Political pressures have cities scrambling to adhere to new directives. Meanwhile, EV drivers are frustrated with their charging station experience. Half of the orchestra’s instruments are effectively broken.
Here are the four main issues cities face when transitioning their e-mobility infrastructure – and how to fix them.
#1: The decisions you were forced to make yesterday didn’t prepare you for today’s regulation
Perhaps the biggest directive to the e-mobility landscape is the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulations (AFIR EU). This directive includes:
- One electric charging pool for every 60 km along main EU roads that’s accessible to all vehicles, including an easy payment plan.
- One electric charging pool for every 60 km for trucks and buses on core TEN-T networks.
- Alternative fuel data set up by 2027 that includes wait times, availability, and pricing across Europe.
This directive will also equip 15% of parking spaces with public chargers for E-Vehicles. They’re expected to be available at least 8 hours a day (6 days a week) with a minimum uptime of 98%.
Originally, the pressure was on European cities to get charging hardware on the ground as fast as possible, despite high ticket prices. In order to fund initiatives, energy companies, hardware companies, and consortiums were invited to invest in the first wave of infrastructure.
But now each city in each country has their own unique e-mobility ecosystem based on who invested in each sector.
Each vendor is playing on their own, without a consistent, strategic plan. This approach will not be capable of fulfilling the demands of the AFIR.
City officials should be looking for a partner that understands the unique challenges and roadblocks at each step of the EV charging journey. Only a partner with a full understanding of the charging, hardware, and service components can help create a strategic plan to achieve current and future directives.
With a problem this complex, one off solutions for one off problems create more long term flaws in the e-mobility infrastructure. Cities need an e-mobility solution that solves many problems and creates a robust foundation for the future across the EV and transportation infrastructure.
#2: Charging stations are failing and range anxiety is increasing
15% of charge points are unavailable and 40% of all paid EV transactions fail. One of the biggest contributors to failing and unavailable chargers is a global boom for EV stations coupled by supply chain issues from COVID-19 and lithium shortages. There aren’t enough parts out there to fix broken charging stations.
The next greatest contributor is inoperable stations due to a shortage of skilled technicians to make repairs.
Other Reasons for Failing or Unavailable Charging Stations:
Unlike fuel stations, there is no one to monitor charging stations. Drivers call in issues as they arise. Then service providers have to call in the issue with the hardware provider – slowing repair times.
Since the number of functioning and available chargers is limited, queuing is becoming the norm in popular destinations. When drivers have an appointment to keep, or they are making a multi-modal journey that gives them only another fifteen minutes to catch a bus, train, or check-in at an airport, they might not trust the infrastructure enough to take their EV and risk scuppering their return journey.
More reliable chargers translate to a reduction in range anxiety for drivers, and a wider adoption of EV drivers. Peace of mind only comes from knowing there will be a place to charge your car. This is why creating a reliable “Look and Book” experience across one app is integral for a satisfied user experience.
Flowbird is working towards creating a back end system that provides real time availability of charger parking spaces across a city’s entire infrastructure. There are a many types of parking that could be included, like:
#3: Drivers want and need to pay simply and effortlessly, without registration
Given the haste and price point of e-mobility adoption, multiple players were introduced into the e-mobility ecosystem without standardised processes or agreements on how to operate. This creates friction for drivers.
Drivers are disappointed to have to download multiple apps with multiple payment programs to get around their city. Constantly registering with the latest service provider is difficult to manage and frustrating if the driver knows they aren’t likely to be in a part of town with that charger again.
Drivers want a generic solution for charging their EV anywhere.
This can be difficult due to the competing private interest of the organisations already involved. While most CPOs (charge point operators) only allow charging payments via their own RFID cards, moving to a singular payment process could minimise friction.
To be a part of a city’s e-mobility, vendors should agree to a standardised payment and service provider.
Flowbird can help standardise payments and user experience. City officials will have to organise and align tenders within their work agreements, but this small step alleviates payment and customer service friction for EV users and allows cities to create standardised payment methods and pricing levels.
In an ideal world, EV drivers will soon pay for parking and charging in the same app or kiosk, and report any issues to the same customer support number – simplifying the process and building trust between a city and its citizens.
#4: Unconsolidated data makes it difficult to act fast and scale with confidence
Getting data from, say, 10 customer service, 10 energy, and 10 hardware providers is not ideal for harvesting valuable information and acting on it fast.
Without relevant and consistent data informing a city’s e-mobility plan, utilisation rates can drop. Outage times can increase. High-traffic areas can go underserved when more charging stations are needed. Worse, cities may try and scale their rollout of e-mobility infrastructure without the foundational insight they need to create a system that will meet current driver needs.
All these situations create frustration for EV drivers and a loss in revenue for vendors and the city.
What cities across Europe need is one centralised hub. While each city will have its unique challenges, Flowbird’s platform is fully agnostic and can integrate any type of charging device or CPO using standard protocols.
We can provide partnerships with EVSE suppliers to offer charging hardware and installation services. Flowbird can create the connection between energy, hardware, and service providers to deliver real-time, applicable data.
After all, what gets measured is what gets done.
Flowbird: An end-to-end solution for a complex problem
Reaching the demands of climate change transportation directives is a complex problem. It requires streamlined support from B2Bs, B2Gs, B2Cs, and patrons. What’s most needed is a solution with urban intelligence that makes a journey easier, faster and safer.
When the orchestra doesn’t play together, the patrons don’t complain to the musicians. They complain to the manager or director of the concert hall. City officials, like directors and managers, are expected to create a great experience for drivers’ using their infrastructure. Not only for the sake of their reputation with locals and tourists, but also with political bodies such as the EU.
Want to learn more about how to make EV charging work for everyone?
Download our e-mobility report.