Powering the EV Revolution: smart charging networks

By David Peake, Chief Operating Officer, The Consultus International Group

 

The era of electric vehicles (EVs) is finally here, after more than a few false starts. The EV revolution also requires a next-generation charging infrastructure for vehicles. What will those networks look like, and how will they work?

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMTT) reported that 14,200 ‘pure’ electric new cars were bought in the first seven months of 2019: an increase of 71% compared to the same period last year. In August, the society reported that pure EV registrations were almost triple “to take record monthly market share” and a new EV forecast suggested that full-year share “could double in 2020”. (https://www.smmt.co.uk/2019/08/new-car-market-declines-injuly-but-pure-ev-registrations-almost-triple/)

A few weeks earlier, UK media reported that ‘Electric cars to enter next gear’ as the British government doubled the funding for charging points on residential streets. The Independent newspaper said “An extra £2.5m will pay for local authorities to install more than 1,000 additional charge points on residential roads”. The article also quoted the AA’s head of roads policy: “The success of the UK’s electric vehicle revolution hinges on access to charging infrastructure.”

However, industry observers have warned that this rising demand for pure EVs may be strangled unless the charging infrastructure that’s required to power EVs undergoes massive improvements and development. Alongside our industry-leading partners, this is where Consultus can help: we are working to rollout leading-edge charging platforms that deliver a wide range of benefits for owners, operators and EV drivers.

Take the equipment and hardware: it has to be robust yet sophisticated, reliable, and flexible enough to suit diverse needs and locations. Options should include dual or single port, pedestal or wall. Devices need to be easy to use, and safe for drivers, which means interactive video displays and input buttons, for instance, and effective cord management.

Fast and easy payment options for drivers should include contactless debit and credit cards, mobile apps and RFID cards. In driver services, EV users want to be notified when, for example, their vehicle is fully charged, their nearest charging point, or when a station becomes available.

Designed for durability, the charging stations themselves need to be able to cope with all weather conditions (as this
summer has shown, we can experience every season in a day). Charge points have to be physically secure, which means spray-paint resistant anodised aluminium.

The software used also has to be flexible, robust and fit for purpose, enabling operators and managers to manage and measure their energy usage, costs and revenue. Station owners want to see how stations are being used and when it’s time to add capacity. Fleet managers want to track vehicle charging, and to be able to pay for fuel if their vehicles need to be charged at other stations.

Network management must be easy, ideally through a user-friendly web portal. Indeed, cloud services should make it easy to manage and configure charging stations, view detailed station reports, see real-time status, and so on.

The next-generation network I’m describing enables a genuine service guarantee, one that includes 98% annual uptime, proactive station monitoring, 24/7 driver support, and repair or replacement of any defective stations at no extra cost, should the worst happen.

And this network isn’t theoretical: it’s a platform that we can deploy right now.

As EV uptake continues and an increasing number of companies electrify their fleets, most EV charging is likely to happen at home or work.

This is why organisations are now thinking about adding charging to their list of employee amenities. Unlike other ‘softer’ services or benefits, EV charging is something their people can use every day; a useful facility they’ll appreciate is provided at their workplace. For employers, EV charging stations will be a useful addition to facilities aimed at attracting the brightest and the best employees while also supporting the organisation’s green agenda. In this day and age, people increasingly want to work for businesses that take sustainability seriously.

A world-class consulting partner for energy and utilities, Consultus was named Most Trusted Consultancy (Large Customers) at the TELCA awards 2019.

 

Find out more information about Consultus EV Charging here.

 

 

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