The EV charging experience improves every month. With new innovations, experience and education, the transition from gas and diesel to hybrid and fully electric transportation becomes increasingly seamless. However, this transition is far from perfect and for first time chargers (whatever the EV may be!) it can be daunting to get started.
When it comes to hardware and software, what can be done to improve the user experience, to reduce charger downtimes and what implications does this have for the EV charging industry as we look ahead to the next few years.
Charging speeds and charger availability is only half the story when it comes to the EV charging experience. It doesn’t matter how many rapid chargers may be on your route if they are offline, broken or have obstructed access making it impossible to charge. Downtime is a factor that is often overlooked.
Choosing the right kind of hardware is paramount when considering good user experience. Deciding between modular and non-modular is a key consideration. At Heliox our tech is based on power modules. One module is 12.5 kw, so 4 modules make up our 50kW rapid chargers. If, for example, one module fails -- we still have 3 others operating so users can continue to charge, while our services team fix the issue more often than not remotely and quickly.
It’s fair to say that most downtime associated with EV chargers comes from software issues. Regular updates are required to keep hardware humming with the latest firmware that needs to then communicate with users' mobile apps and a variety of charging electric vehicles in turn.
This doesn’t just relate to charge points, but also to EV’s. Take the recent news of certain versions of the all-electric ID 3 being delayed because the car’s software isn’t ready. According to the Verge:
“It’s a black eye for the project, and it’s one of the reasons why VW CEO Herbert Diess was stripped of his role at the brand this week.”
It was the same CEO who lambasted the Ionity charging network after he took an EV trip through Italy. According to Bloomberg:
“The chief executive officer took to social media on Thursday to scold Ionity GmbH, the charging venture part-owned by VW, over a regrettable experience driving an ID.3 to a summer destination. Diess said he had trouble finding a working plug along the Brenner Pass that links Austria to Italy.”
With OEM leaders publicly criticising their own fast charging networks - there’s evidently a long way to go before the general public can enjoy a seamless charging experience when it comes to both hardware and software.