How to streamline EV fleet operations in North America
Producing electric vehicles (EV) is key to supplying today’s growing demand for more sustainable transport and mobility solutions but what is really needed in North America (and around the world) is robust and efficient EV charging infrastructure which is compatible with fleets made up of different car brands.
While EV manufacturing giant Tesla certainly blazed its path for charging infrastructure in North America with its fast-charging Supercharger network which started some 10 years ago (2012), many automakers today have followed suit in the region with infrastructure plans that work hand-in-hand with their vehicles.
For example, the Volkswagen Group of America (in partnership with Electrify America) had at least 730 DC fast charging locations in 2H22 with more than 2,400 individual charging units in the United States. Moreover, General Motors (alongside EVgo) is boasting that it will have more than 2,700 fast-charging stations in the country by year-end 2025.
At the start of 2022, Tesla had some 3,500 Supercharger locations worldwide with approximately 31,500 charging points. More than a third of them are in North America.
Tesla Supercharger network in North America (courtesy of Tesla)
Much of the recent enthusiasm was sparked by an infrastructure bill by President Joe Biden which earmarked $7.5 billion to build a network of 500,000 EV chargers in the United States. Now signed into a law, both OEMs and EV charging companies have accelerated growth plans in the country to take advantage of the federal initiative.
Besides Electrify America and EVgo, other charging companies include ChargePoint with 30,000 charge locations and 47,000 individual charge points in the US as well as Blink Charging with 48,000 chargers.
We can all agree that expanding infrastructure is great but the competition between these companies has created networks which are not compatible with each other, and this is something that needs to be collaborated on to better the industry.
Many drivers find that they need to have a specific mobile app or account to use chargers and they frequently face problems due to incompatible RFID or credit card readers and even hardware which may require a special adapter to get their charging done.
Much like the early years of laptops and cellphones, it is not uncommon to find various chargers from different suppliers in one parking lot, so what we really need today is an efficient charging experience that works for everyone.
Plug and Charge
To resolve matters, automakers need to give EV drivers a simplified experience.
One idea being eyed by many is offering a streamlined EV charging process known as “Plug and Charge”. This requires promoting cars which can be easily plugged into a charger, and those which accept standardized and automated payments as well as plug in infrastructure which are compatible with a large range of charging stations.
With Plug and Charge, the charging facility recognizes the vehicle as it pulls up to park. It eliminates the need to pre-register or create an additional account and payment is handled and authenticated directly from the user’s smartphone.
By allowing drivers to pay with their own account, they will be able to simply pull up to the machine and start charging much like the traditional gas station experience.
Among the OEMs found working toward this charging experience are Audi, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Lucid, Mercedes-Benz, Polestar, Porsche, and Volkswagen, but many more are expected to join the trend.
With that said, fleet experts, make sure to keep an eye on what is coming to the market. Meanwhile, to discover the portrait of the major global car manufacturers and their main strategies, download your free copy of the Global Fleet E-Book entitled Car Manufacturers’ Global Fleet Strategy.