Traditional electric vehicle charging systems need, for each parking spot, a charging station equipped with a steering unit and/or an unattended payment terminal which needs to communicate with a back-office and an end-user device to start and stop charging. What can go wrong?
- The HW-level on the steering unit can fail.
- The OS-level on the steering unit can fail.
- The app-level on the steering unit can fail.
- The network-level on the steering unit can fail.
- The steering unit can fail due to integration issues with the charging station.
- The steering unit can fail due to integration issues with the unattended payment terminal.
- The unattended payment terminal can fail due to integration issues with the steering unit.
- The unattended payment terminal can fail due to internal errors.
- The unattended payment terminal can fail due to integration issues with the payment service provider.
- The steering unit can fail due to integration issues with the back office of the provider of charging stations.
- The payment process on the end-user device can fail due to integration issues with the payment service provider.
- The end-user device can fail due to integration issues with the back-office of a provider of charging stations.
- The HW-level on the end-user device can fail.
- The OS-level on the end-user device can fail.
- The app-level on the end-user device can fail.
- The network-level on the end-user device can fail.
- The end-user device does not have signal from the telecom operator.
- The end-user can disable roaming on the device.
- The end-user device can run out of power.
As early as 2016 we released an electric charging feature in the Sesam Sesam solution which skipped all the 19 potential issues by letting the charging stations be available 24/7 inside a dedicated ALPR charging area. The end-users do not need to perform any actions related to the charging visit other than driving into the charging area, park, insert the charging cable, do their business, remove the charging cable, driving out of the charging area. What happens if the end-users do not insert the charging cable? The end-users still pay as informed on the sign at the entry.
The first advantage is obvious, the end-user satisfaction is higher as the charging becomes part of the ALPR-parking experience. The costs related to the charging process is presented through the recurrent payment interface in the same way as the parking process, already familiar to the end-users and customer support. Often end-users do not want to be involved in the details of voltage and current, as long as they know that they pay a fair price, and most manufacturers of electric vehicles have apps where the end-users can get relevant information, hereunder remaining charging time and current battery capacity. End-users want understandable prices, either through a price matrix and/or on vehicle level (ISO 15188, see below). A successful approach in the last years for communicating price towards end-users and secure throughput on the facility is to use progressive time intervals, for example, the price will increase significantly after four hours. Then the car is fully charged and someone else can use that spot.
The second advantage is related to revenue optimization for facility owners and/or parking operators. This is achieved from more use of each spot combined with the possibility to differentiate the cost of charging according to the prices from the energy companies. By cooperating with a modern supplier of charging stations offering load balancing and efficient use of available power more cars can charge at the same time and the production costs will be reduced.
Parking guidance is a third advantage. Either the ALPR solution is per area or per spot, it will be possible to inform end-users about occupancy through app, web or VMS.
The fourth advantage is related to maintainability costs. From an Operations perspective, whether the responsible company is a parking management system provider, a parking operator or a facility owner, the risk for something to fail during the charging and payment process is heavily reduced. Downtime or receiving invoices with running hours from external consultants for fixes on one of the 19 issues mentioned above will no longer happen. If one charging station fails, which happens very seldom, it is simply replaced with another without any error searching at the site. This means that Operations can be performed with higher quality at a lower cost. For volume installations, unit costs will also be heavily reduced due to the fact that this solution needs fewer components.
Today we identify four main scenarios for charging:
- Charging at home/housing cooperative.
- Charging as part of the parking experience.
- A charging station one drives specifically to in the local area (like a gas station).
- A charging station decided in advance on a long journey. (like a gas station with a booking element).
Probably will all four scenarios be relevant in the next years, with increased use of ALPR and RFID as input to the payment process. In a longer perspective, the charging of electrical vehicles will likely follow the same path as USB charging and internet access from mobile phones. From having dedicated areas in high-end locations like airports, through all-access on local buses, until the need was reduced due to powerbanks and affordable roaming on device level. On the device level for vehicles, the ISO 15118 standard which enables an electric vehicle to automatically identify and authorize itself to a charging station on behalf of a registered account will no doubt be important for the payment process, but this will not solve the public responsibility parking operators have to secure throughput on high demand facilities. This means that the parking management system needs to be able to issue an “overuse fee” for vehicles that have been staying over the maximum allowed charging time.
No matter how the future of electric charging will look like we will continue to support solutions that simplify everyday life.