Discuss electric vehicles (EVs) with anyone and the topic of range and charging infrastructure will come up. For many, these are the biggest blockers to buying an EV. As people head off for their summer staycations they’ll be asking, “Can my car make a 300-mile journey? Will there be charging points available along the way?” These aren’t unreasonable questions as most EVs struggle to achieve 250 miles on a single charge, and we all regularly see charging points that are out of order and sites where all points are in use.
To solve these problems, EV charging vendors must provide a much better service to become “boringly reliable,” so that charging is no longer a worry to consumers—and this requires service monitoring.
Vendors will have done their research into how many charging points are needed in an area, so having even one point down across a bank can make a huge difference to availability
Common problems of rollout
For EV charging vendors, several problems can cause service to suffer as the estate grows to more than a few hundred devices. Having too few charging points in an area can have a real impact on the quality of the service—waiting for points to become available makes for unhappy customers. Another obstacle is ‘blocking’, where vehicles remain plugged-in after charging is complete. Vendors are experimenting with various approaches to encourage drivers to move-on in a timely way to maintain service availability for subsequent customers.
Then there are faulty devices, which are a real killer for service. Vendors will have done their research into how many charging points are needed in an area, so having even one point down across a bank can make a huge difference to availability. Faults can be driven by many factors, including hardware, software, communications, and even business process problems which prevent faults being detected and resolved in a timely fashion. Faults effecting more than one device are really damaging to reputation. If customers are irritated by a single charging point being unavailable, imagine their reaction to a whole bank or larger area being taken offline—especially if they’re in the middle of a long journey with no other chargers nearby.
Making smart devices smart
As a vendor, you could wait for customer complaints before dispatching engineers to fix problems. But this reactive approach leads to much worse uptime and site availability, and pretty much guarantees that you always let down your customers. By the time they’ve complained, it’s too late.
Without service monitoring, charging point vendors are completely in the dark about what is happening on their devices and have to be reactive instead of being proactive.
The better option is to deploy service monitoring technology to keep an eye on the whole estate—monitoring point uptime, site availability, and usage patterns. This lets vendors take action before customers are inconvenienced. Service monitoring also means faults can be spotted before they become a problem, meaning engineers can be dispatched—or sometimes even resolve the problem remotely—before the customer even realises there is an issue.
Without service monitoring, charging point vendors are completely in the dark about what is happening on their devices and have to be reactive instead of being proactive. This makes it impossible to deliver a good charging experience to consumers, which is really holding back EV adoption.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Pilgrim Beart is cofounder and Chief Executive of DevicePilot
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