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E-mobility is the overarching term that encompasses the use of fully electric, conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid as well as hydrogen-fuelled vehicles. The widespread adoption of electric vehicles is certainly increasing at an impressive rate. The costs of EVs are now dropping rapidly and a combination of government schemes, tax incentives, fuel efficiency and the lower cost of electricity means that the lifetime cost of an EV may well be lower than that of petrol and diesel cars. As electric vehicle battery technology develops so too will the range that EVs can cover – which was a major sticking point discouraging potential early adopters.

At present, there are issues that are preventing this adoption from increasing at a higher rate – and if these are not properly addressed – full ‘electrification‘ may struggle to be realized.

The marginal issue of "charging" is slowing down e-mobility

Driving an e-car currently seems very tedious to many people. The main reason is that charging is complicated, impractical, and unsafe. A study has investigated how charging systems need to function in order to meet the needs of e-car drivers. The key lies in the right combinability, says our resident lead expert on electric vehicles.

Over the course of a year, the charging behaviour of 1,246 e-car drivers in eight European countries was investigated as part of a study by the Swiss provider of charging technologies Juice Technology (Cham, CH). In parallel, the consumers' wishes were analysed and compared with the charging options actually available today.

The aim was to gain new insights into how charging systems must be designed in order for e-mobility to make the breakthrough into the mass market. (Note, the author is a member of the company's B of D)

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The impetus for carrying out this study was the observation that by far the most frequently asked enquiries on an "e-driver.net" hotline revolve around electric vehicle charging.

It is obvious that drivers of electric vehicles are not being served by the vehicle manufacturers and their dealer organisations in a way that encourages them to feel confident about charging their vehicle.

Just imagine this situation with other devices:
"I have a great video camera, but I don't actually like using it because I don't have a charger for it and the salesman couldn't tell me anything about it either."

A Myriad Of Problems Facing Electric Vehicle Charging

An absolute marginal issue takes away the attractiveness and glamour of the product. That's not the way it's supposed to be. With the study, the charging station provider Juice Technology wanted to find out what the customer really wants. One main problem became apparent: the variety of charging stations.

Many compare the charging process with filling up with petrol. If you manage to distinguish petrol from diesel, you're not doing anything wrong. With e-cars, however, the user suddenly has to know four different charging modes, keep different cables and devices on hand for them, and also understand when they need a wall charging station - a so-called "wallbox" -, how it has to be connected and, if necessary, how it has to be registered with the energy supplier.

On top of this they require a good knowledge of how they control the amount of electricity in their house so that overloads are ruled out. And to complete the complexity, there is also the problem of how - in a typical multi-family house situation, for example - to settle the electricity consumption fairly and correctly with other garage users. Even today, the market for charging stations consists almost exclusively of isolated solutions. Each one fulfils a task on its own. For the customer, however, this means a sheer confusion of offers and applications. The result: uncertainty, endless lines of questioning, doubts about the vehicle. Ultimately, this is a disruptive factor on the path to electrification.

The idiosyncrasies of the German charging infrastructure

    Even experienced electric car owners are repeatedly surprised by non-transparent tariff models and high costs. In Germany, the renowned consumer protection organisation "Stiftung Warentest" has been investigating tariff models since 2019 and came up with the following curiosities, among others, which describe the whole range of possibilities.

  • - Some local energy suppliers take €7.00 euros per charging process.
  • - A “ChargeNow” tariff costs €9.50 euros per month plus €0.04 cents per minute for normal charging (AC) during the day and €0.02 cents at night.
  • - An “Innogy” tariff costs €4.95 euros per month and an additional €0.30 cents per kWh.
  • - Stadtwerke Düsseldorf (a local energy supplier) offers unlimited normal charging for €35.00 euros per month.
  • - Stadtwerke Frankfurt/Oder (another local energy supplier) charges a monthly fee of €5 euros plus €0.32 cents per kWh and an additional €0.02 cents per minute.
  • - Free charging is available at some supermarkets such as Lidl, DIY stores and furniture stores, with some companies also offering this for their employees.
  • - In the city of Osnabrück, three car parks charge a flat rate of €3.00 euros per hour for charging, including parking.

Operators of public charging technology should ensure tariff clarity

Whoever is the first to enter the market with a charging solution that is predominantly accepted nationwide has the chance to displace existing providers. Short-sighted "optimisation" of revenue streams from public charging stations harms the acceptance of electric mobility in the medium to long term.

    Key Considerations:

  • - Clear transparent and fully competitive tariffs are therefore needed, as well as reasonable interoperability of the different billing option.
  • - In terms of price transparency, the customer should be presented with everything they need to know about the costs.

 
The following applies to all participants: Customer education is key. The electromobility market is on its way from a niche market and early adopters to a mass market. This is true at least as far as the registration figures for electromobility are concerned.
 

 


 

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