Growth strains electric vehicle infrastructure

Transforming a city with new devices, data and business models – part two

In the first part of this article we looked at how technology, data and startups are transforming industries, the significant electric vehicles use in Oslo, Norway, and the advantages of this technology. In this part we consider the customer insights and lessons for corporates and startups in this space, with the rates of electric vehicles purchased in Oslo now exceeding 50 per cent.

Customer and service insights from Oslo

A holistic and focused approach is needed to be able to promote the adoption of EVs and support people’s use of different transport methods i.e. public transport, cycling or walking.

As many more EVs are now coming on the network in Norway, strains are beginning to show.

Queues at charge points and the challenge of providing a good customer service have become apparent in Oslo. ‘Queue anxiety’ is now more of an issue than ‘range anxiety’. In addition to the inconvenience of waiting, those waiting in line have even found themselves getting parking tickets.

The Aimava group of corporates visited charge infrastructure providers who said that over 250 thousand charges per annum were achieved with 3,000 chargers. The best utilisation rates for chargers were 35 charges per day and good was 10 per day. Identifying good locations, installing, testing uptake, extra installations and planning transmission grid management are all key aspects of the role of Charge Point Operators (CPOs).

Charger booking and payment were still an issue, with a range of apps and solutions available from text payments (the most inconvenient), to RFID tags (most convenient), app payments, and also now automatic payment with car plug in.

Using the standard electricity supply at their home or work has been the main method of charging for many EV users, however, new legislation will insist on the use of specially installed chargers in the future.

Customer service and the repair of damaged chargers has been a strain on the system. Whilst the repair of a traditional petrol station pump can usually be undertaken in around four hours, a high voltage cable can take many days and cost $5,000.

The capital cost of managing and increasing the capacity of the network is necessary as more vehicles come online, all wishing to charge at the same time at a given location. The management of charging through data is being installed – we met two startups that have solutions for apartments, streets and the trading of energy. Data is used to offset and replace assets.

Oslo has been one of the first cities to move to having the ‘early majority’ purchasing EVs on the adoption curve and ‘crossing the chasm’. The vast majority of countries are still at the phase of innovators being the purchasers of EVs. Some locations will be able to move to Early Adopters with concerted support and regulation from central and local government. The industry is reaching price parity but the infrastructure and service provision requires corporate investment and services. However, given the level of investment that has gone into developing the EV landscape in Norway, we also need to look at innovative models for Infrastructure investment.

Corporate and startup changes

The Innovative New Value Chain for Electric Vehicles is now very different from the traditional vehicle and energy sectors. The current ICE model is purchase a car, refuel at a petrol station and pay taxes.

Innovative New Value Chain

The Innovative New Value Chain for Electric Vehicles we have seen from our work in Oslo includes:

  • Different technology and manufacture of the vehicle. EVs have fewer parts and simpler technology than ICEs
  • Dealers have to educate and sell vehicles differently
  • Refuelling largely takes place at home, when the owner has a driveway or parking space
  • New models for charging en masse in both on and off street parking and communal areas
  • Software and data to manage the charging cycles and the electricity infrastructure on a local and network-wide basis
  • Vehicle to grid energy management
  • Vehicle sharing and integrated traffic planning
  • Use of data for planning journeys
  • New payments and insurance methods

These changes to the value chain mean that current automotive manufacturers, oil companies, electricity energy companies, infrastructure providers, insurers, and finance organisations will change, with startups creating new opportunities. Organisations that can see the overview of the Innovative New Value Chain and orchestrate their future will make significant savings in poor investments and have the opportunity to map a route to the future.

While Oslo is a great example of EV penetration, the scale of China cannot be matched by other countries, as I have already outlined elsewhere. The members of the corporate group we are leading are now exploring the changes in China and how the technology, data and business models from the ‘Middle Kingdom’ could come to lead the world. This is what I have termed ‘Enter the Dragon,’ for the scale and speed of technology and business model development in China will have a global impact.

We are seeing the case of Electric Vehicles being replicated in many other industries with health devices, consumer products, financial services – and more – all of which could be impacting your business.

Read more articles from Andrew Gaule here.