How the EV Charging Ecosystem Opens Doors to a Broad Spectrum of Players

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A new Mobility era, which combines the electrification of transportation systems, shared mobility (Transportation as a Service models like Uber), connected cars, autonomous driving and smart electric vehicle (EV) charging networks, is now upon us.

As both governments and citizens push to lower planetary carbon emissions, automobile manufacturers and electric utilities are responding through increased investment, design and deployment of EV technologies and grid modernization. The hard work is beginning to pay off as EVs offer an effective and concrete solution for reducing the transportation-driven carbon footprint. Unlike their Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) predecessors, EVs are capable of sharing their stored energy. EV development costs are also on the decrease as the price of batteries, a key component in the EV ecosystem, continues to drop. According to the World Economic Forum, the cost of battery storage will decrease from $1,000 per kilowatt hour in 2010 to an expected $200 kWh by 2020.

EV Charging

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that EVs in Europe and the U.S., will account for 13% and 12% respectively of electricity coming back to the grid via the energy stored in EV batteries by 2040.

Some experts are projecting that, in the near future, plug-in electric vehicles could even be configured to participate in utility grid demand management schemes. For example, EV owners could buy electrical power when grid prices are low, and then sell their excess stored energy to the grid when prices are high ̶ a concept that is referred to as vehicle-to-grid (V2G).

Auto Manufacturers Look to Transform into Mobility Services Providers

The recent increase in EV-related investments, promotion and technology development is primarily the direct result of three converging trends: regulatory pressures and public demands for lower emissions, the drastic, technology-driven drop in battery prices, and the expansion of affordable and digitized EV charging networks. Other elements that are accelerating the push towards more EV adoption include increased EV autonomy and the mid to long-term cost competitiveness of EV total cost of ownership (such as batteries, lower maintenance costs) when compared to existing hydrocarbon alternatives.

As these pieces begin to interlock and drive momentum, key industry players, such as automobile manufacturers, are altering their business models to accommodate the new paradigm. The car manufacturers, for example, have chosen to look beyond only producing and selling cars. They want to transform themselves into mobility services providers. Some are currently engaged in the acquisition of car sharing companies, for instance, in order to help build up their services portfolios.  Concurrently, these manufacturers, within the next 5 years, will launch a massive increase in the numbers and varieties of EV models they will offer customers.

Diverse Contributors Lend Specialization and Expertise to Forge an Efficient EV Ecosystem

Within the broader picture of a mobility ecosystem, EVs only represent one piece of the puzzle. Key stakeholders beyond automobile manufacturers are emerging that offer a number of perspectives and contributions to EV ecosystem development:

  • Oil & Gas companies – The traditional gas stations that dot our towns and highways will add new services to address the needs of electrification transportation. Oil & Gas companies will add to their retail revenue streams by servicing these new waves of customers.
  • Utilities – Electric companies will experience new ways of selling electricity to consumers and will also be able to leverage the EV networks, and its energy storage capacity, to address power supply and demand constraints during peak power consumption hours.
  • E-Mobility service providers – In addition to companies like Lyft and Uber, smaller service providers will contribute by offering innovative EV network payment management, customer care, and booking services solutions.
  • EV charging station providers – Equipment manufacturers will provide both fast charging solutions along highways and smart charging infrastructures within fleet facilities to help to optimize safety and energy efficiency while reducing electrical energy costs.
  • Charging point operators – Integrated Operating Centers (IOC) and Network Operating Centers (NOC) will emerge to maintain consistent operation of networks of charging stations while providing physical and remote maintenance of key hardware and software assets.

Each of these stakeholders is contributing in their own way to evolve an integrated system that provides the service, economic and environmental benefits required.

Partnerships will be Essential for Success

It will not be easy for auto manufacturers and other interested stakeholders to engineer the transition from ICE autos to EVs.  The levels of disruption will be high and care must be taken to select partners capable of offering high efficiency solutions and global support.

Leading electrical physical infrastructure providers, like Schneider Electric, have engaged in EV research and development for many years and established partnerships with utilities, automobile manufacturers, and other key stakeholders.

Schneider Electric expertise in the areas of fleet, highway and at destination recharging infrastructures, cybersecurity consulting, power distribution, energy management and asset management systems, will help to lay the groundwork for the integration of EV and the power support infrastructures.

New Schneider Electric ventures, such as Inno2grid in Europe and eIQ Mobility in the US, have been set-up specifically to provide fleet intensive companies that are dependent on cars, vans, buses and trucks with a platform to study, propose and support the conversion of ICE to EV. Experts help these customers to answer important questions such as “Which car should I choose?”, “Where should I implement my charging infrastructure?” and “What kind of diagnostics do EVs require?”.

To learn more about how Schneider Electric can help support EV infrastructure solution design, operation, and maintainability, join me at CERAWeek in Houston, Texas on March 11-15, 2019 or visit our Web site.

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