Electric vehicle charging comes with several challenges, but also new opportunities. Range anxiety and lack of charging infrastructure are examples of hurdles that the automotive industry has begun to address. Even so, there are even more fundamental aspects of electric vehicle charging – not least related to user experience – that are often overlooked. Using and charging an electric vehicle in their everyday lives is still too much of a hassle for many potential customers. So, how can we make it easier for them? How can you enhance the EV user experience through connectivity and convenience?
Identifying the main challenges of electric vehicle charging
The challenges of electric vehicle charging can generally be divided into three factors, or scenarios. The issues related to the first two have largely been solved, whereas the third one is where the greatest potential lies.
1. Drivers/users that primarily charge their electric vehicles at home, such as in their garages or driveways. The technology that makes this possible already exists and becomes better and more affordable over time. Even so, charging one’s EV at home is still rarely an option for many people who live in cities.
2. Electric vehicle charging during long-distance trips requires appropriate charging infrastructure along the way, and that drivers can find and use it easily. More and more charging stations are being established, and connected car services such as Smart EV Routing make it easier for drivers to plan their EV journeys: both short- and long-distance trips.
3. Most people who want to use electric vehicles live in cities. However, many of these potential customers are deterred from buying or renting an EV because it is just not easy nor convenient enough to do so, given how and where they live. Car makers will not meet their EV targets unless they help these potential customers and show them that using an electric vehicle is not just a viable option, but easy and comfortable too.
Electric vehicle charging must be associated with convenience
Drivers get used to convenient connected car services quickly, which sets new bars for their user experience.
Many people who live in urban areas want to drive electric vehicles, but do not have easy access to EV charging infrastructure. The latter is not just a matter of geography and city planning. A lot of apps, tags and cards meant to make electric vehicle charging easier may in fact deter new users; especially if these apps or devices make the charging process less convenient than filling up the gas or diesel tank at the nearest station, for example.
This is why convenience is such a key success factor for electric vehicle charging. The potential that comes from offering this convenience to urban drivers (or would-be drivers) of electric vehicles is enormous yet remains mostly untapped. How do we change that?
A connected car service that allows EV users to “Plug and Go”
Ideally, a parked electric vehicle should always be plugged into the power grid. The driver should merely have to park the EV, plug in the charging cord, and leave the vehicle until he or she wants to use it again. The payment can be administered easily, via the driver’s registered credit or debit card. Moreover, having the EV connected to the power grid allows it to store and supply energy through vehicle-to-grid technology, V2G. More on that a little later.
Simplicity and convenience are the key factors that unlock the potential of this kind of concept. It will need to be as straightforward as the customers expect it to be, so that they can and will want to use it every day. The charging infrastructure will need to be widely available too, of course, but does not have to be particularly technologically advanced as long as it is connected to a backend.
Plug & Go is a WirelessCar concept that allows drivers to do just that: park their electric cars, plug them into the power grid, and just go about their business. Its aim is to enhance the EV user experience through connectivity and convenience.
How does Plug & Go work?
When an electric vehicle is plugged into a typical charging station, at a parking area somewhere in the city, they only communicate with one another on a very rudimentary level. However, since both the car and the charging station are connected to the Internet, they can talk to the WirelessCar backend. When the EV gets plugged in at the charging pole, both of them send time and location data that can be matched immediately in the backend. The driver is notified that the battery will be charged, informed about the parking and charging rates, and asked if he or she wants to park the car in its current location as well. If the driver accepts, he or she will be all set and can just leave the car.
This is yet another example of the power of the connected, software-defined car, and how connectivity and convenience go hand in hand to create better user experiences for drivers. It contributes to making it easier to own and/or drive an electric vehicle, which in turn can help foster greater brand loyalty.
Vehicle-to-grid technology will allow electric vehicles to contribute to the power grid
When plugged into the power grid, electric vehicles will be able to provide it with additional power. Through vehicle-to-grid technology, power can be reliably stored in and distributed via the EV battery. The greater the number of participating vehicles, the better. Even more importantly, the EVs should preferably be connected to the power grid very frequently.
Since most cars are parked during more than 90% of their lifetimes, it is often ideal to use electric vehicles for vehicle-to-grid purposes. Car makers and individual drivers can contribute to the energy supply, while at the same time ensuring easy and efficient EV battery charging.
In order for drivers to want to contribute, it must be very easy to do so. Plug & Go is a concept aimed at facilitating electric vehicle charging, which we believe gives drivers greater incentives to participate. Aside from being a WirelessCar concept, we believe it can be the start of something greater: a prime example of how car makers, drivers, connected car service providers and companies in the energy sector can come together to expand and enhance the use of electric vehicles.
Curious about Plug & Go, and our WirelessCar products and solutions? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Make sure to also check out our blog article on how we can revolutionize connected car service delivery!