Full charge ahead
Although sales of electric vehicles saw huge growth between 2015 and 2018, they still only represent about 2-4% of the overall car market in countries with high rates of car ownership such as China, the U.S. and France. OECD countries expect to see rates rise in coming years as the technology becomes more convenient for the everyday driver.
Several factors keep current and potential EV drivers in varying states of apprehension, from high price points to range anxiety. Not only is charging-station network frequency a significant issue, but so is the disparity between proprietary charging technologies — a problem that French multinational Total is currently tackling.
The impending electromobility transition
Europe has set the following ambitious targets for itself to reduce emissions from mobility and transportation by 2030:
- Private vehicles: -37.5% versus 2021 levels
- Light transport: -31% versus 2021 levels
- Heavy transport: -30% versus 2019 levels
Equipment manufacturers “already know that they will need zero-emission vehicles,” explains Total’s Agnes Dumesges. “Electromobility is mandatory to address these short-term challenges.”
Customer experience improvements
Total studied five European countries to gauge typical charging patterns among EV users, and found that 73-79% of charging comes from private locations such as the home and office, and is typically done through low-powered charge points (CPs) that measure from 3-7 kW. Other slow-charge CPs are found in public spaces such as shopping centres and curbside, which make up about 15-20% of the charges, at 22 kW. Fast charges make up only 2-6% of charges, and are done at service stations that offer a power range between 50 kW and 350 kW.
In conjunction with France’s Institut Vedecom, a public-private partnership in research and training in the energy transition, Total has been working to develop a standardized procedure to link EVs with charging stations. The goal: to mitigate technology compatibility problems, improving ease of use and the overall customer experience.
Each EV sold will be associated with a unique ID that’s activated when connected to a charging point, which communicates with the cloud to determine the terms and conditions of the driver’s contract, including the pricing scheme. No need for the user to manually input any information. “It’s the same as when you receive your new credit card: You need to make physical contact so that you are authorized to use it for any activity,” explains Total’s Mathieu Lanéelle.
With an anticipated 170,000 CPs throughout Europe by 2025 and 300 of Total’s high-powered charging stations by 2022, this effort is seen by Total and Institut Vedecom as a way to regulate and standardize a system that is still in need of significant development before mass adoption of EVs can occur.
This article is based on the following working session given at the 2019 Movin’On Summit: “Plug & charge: Facilitate customer journey in the upcoming electromobility transition” by Mathieu Lanéelle (Total), Gilles Le Calvez (Institut Vedecom), Agnes Dumesges (Total).