‘Charging As A Service’ For Electric Vehicles Growing As A Market Offering

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

#Quality    #Automotive    #innovation

Amongst several impediments to short-term adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is “charging anxiety”, such that a recent study found nearly 60% of customers do not foresee buying an EV in the next six years. Although a recent New York Times article suggested in hyperbole that 2022 might be when “...the march of battery-powered cars becomes unstoppable [and makes] the internal combustion engine lurch towards obsolescence,” customers are still hesitant to switchover to the newer technology without an upfront understanding of long-range trips sans arduous planning, inconvenient waypoints or significant delays. And multiply that nervousness tenfold when talking about a fleet. Regardless of potential fuel savings, businesses cannot have valuable assets either experiencing downtime or non-productive mileage.

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Refueling has traditionally been an individual transaction based upon the fuel requested, but now a newer business model is available to subscribing customers.

Meanwhile, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act does contain $7.5 billion intended for a national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the United States, but the rollout speed and coverage is nowhere near fully-defined and, therein, is difficult for planning a household’s travel needs, let alone a fleet business.

Yesterday’s announcement, though, adds to a growing trend that very likely could “move the needle” on charging. EV Connect announced the expansion of its EV Charging As A Service program, which is intended to create “...worry-free EV charging by combining hardware, software, and service offerings with flexible payments to EV Connect customers.” The concept is that such services provide lower risk solutions with greater flexibility to small- and mid-sized businesses or multifamily properties, especially where multiple vehicles need charging. The Charging As A Service program removes the burden of ownership and maintenance from the charging host by providing such things as turnkey EV charging stations, management software, 24/7 driver support, professional field maintenance, etc.

“With the [Electric Vehicle Charging As A Service] program we provide an economical and low-risk approach to EV charging, which ensures greater accessibility to EV charging in many more places,” states Paul Terry, Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development at EV Connect. “The program delivers on our commitment to bring EV drivers reliable charging through the EV Connect network. We are proud to democratize EV charging infrastructure to ensure that the industry meets the growing demand for charging, for everybody.” 

Are such services like EV Connect, GreenlotsWattLogic, etc. (all with different market offerings) likely to increase worldwide adoption of EVs? Maybe. Any rollout plan for a technology shift requires some early adoption from the market segments with the greatest need, which in turn reduces the price point or impediment to widespread adoption. Yes, an updated study (2019) by the Harvard Business Review suggests that the adoption of new technologies has been speeding-up in recent years, but it still requires what Malcom Gladwell popularized as “The Tipping Point”, or the moment of critical mass. That mass decreases the variable cost for the followers, helps to solve early integration issues and eventually sways public sentiment as quasi-salesmen.

Which Charging As A Service offering will win-out or is there sufficient demand to warrant all of the growing supply? Good questions. There are multiple market studies that suggest fleets — especially service contractors and local businesses — will shift to EVs to save on operational fuel, repair expenses and sustainability impacts with many of them welcoming battery assistance. But just like most market segments, if there will be winner(s), it likely shall be those design the user experience around the customers’ ease of use. “To meet the global demand for electric transportation, the ability to deploy and manage EV charging must be both simple and accessible for all,” suggests Yosuke Matsumoto, the General Manager of New Downstream Division at Mitsui, EV Connect’s investment partner.

In other words, customers appear amped up for this growing change, as long as it’s easy.

This article was originally published by Steve Tengler (steve.tengler@kuglermaag.com) on Forbes.com on February 16, 2021

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