What stops electric vehicles mass adoption?
Electric vehicle sales are booming in many European markets, e.g., in North Europe about ⅓ of new vehicles are chargeable. Additionally, Germany, France, and the UK are experiencing impressive growth numbers as well. So, has the electric vehicle proven its acceptance in the “general market”? No, it has not, as there are still chasms to cross before we can confidently say the electric vehicle is the new market standard.
What is range anxiety in electric vehicles?
Range anxiety is the fear a driver has that his/her battery-electric vehicle will run out of electricity, and therefore, has insufficient range to reach their destination. The industry has improved electric vehicles’ range, mainly by introducing larger batteries (kWh). The industry uses WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure) parameters to inform electric vehicles’ driving range with a certain predefined driving pattern. Current commercial electric vehicles have a WTLP range from a couple hundred kms, to over 500 kms.
Is focusing on longer driving range wise?
Due to range anxiety, many end-users don’t regard electric vehicles as a viable option for their next vehicle. Therefore, electric car manufacturers have focused on increasing battery size in order to achieve longer WLTP-parameters. This is very similar to the early days of mobile phones. Mobile phone manufacturers focused on increasing the “stand-by time” and “talking time” of their mobile phones. At one point, we had mobile phones with 14 days “stand-by time”, which now seems ridiculous as we all have adopted a pattern of charging our mobile phones every night, and whenever necessary. The same should happen with electric vehicles, as a normal end-user doesn’t drive several hundred kms per day, or even weekly. The average driving distance per day is a couple of tens of kms per day.
The cost of increasing driving range
Increasing driving range involves larger batteries to be placed in electric vehicles. The battery is a substantial cost element when producing electric vehicles and consumes more minerals.
Let’s calculate how much it would cost to the European end-users to have on average 100 kms longer driving range.
Average consumption: 15 kWh/ 100 km
100 kms longer range: +15 kWh capacity
Cost of +15 kWh battery: 4 500€
EVs in Europe by 2030: 40 million
180 000 M€ additional cost to the European end-users by 2030!
We should focus on charging anxiety!
Charging anxiety is the fear a driver has that when he/she needs to charge their electric vehicle it won’t be possible, or that it will be inconvenient, and this causes extra stress. Vehicles are parked over 90% of their time - vehicles are parked during the night close to the home, and during the day at the workplace. In an ideal situation, the end-user could charge EVs at these locations, and upon leaving, the electric vehicle will have enough range for daily needs.
Destination and high-power public charging are needed more infrequently, but the availability of these options plays an important role in the end-user’s buying decisions. For example, vehicle use is often more essential during the holidays for many users, and driving distance to these locations can easily be several hundred kms, or even over a thousand kms. High-power public charging fills up the battery in half an hour, and makes longer trips convenient. Destination charging, e.g., in hotels, is appreciated by the end-users as the electric vehicle can then be used at the location, or the battery is now fully charged when the journey back home starts.
How to prevent charging anxiety!
The cheapest and most convenient way to charge an electric vehicle is at home. The concept that the battery is fully charged when needed, with lower-cost electricity, is so unique and can’t be offered with internal combustion engine vehicles.
If home charging is not possible, then the end-user must rely on the workplace, destination, and public charging. This is also possible to do, but then the end-user, unfortunately, might face some unnecessary problems that may cause charging anxiety:
Not enough charging points. Currently, the electric vehicle stock is increasing so fast that the infrastructure cannot keep up with the pace. This causes a situation wherein some locations will have a charging queue, but end-users might need to wait until a free charging point is available. Charge point operators should actively monitor the usage of their network and queue times in order to offer better availability of charging to their customers.
Out of order charging points. Charge points are IoT devices with software and network connectivity. This means that the charge point operator/owner needs to maintain the equipment after it is installed; by installing new software as needed, maintaining charge points, and monitoring the network. Unfortunately, not all operators are doing this. The situation is better with high-power chargers, but many destination, workplace, and home charge points are left without proper after-sales services. Therefore, it is not uncommon that when an end-user arrives at the location, the charge point is out of order.
Trouble with charging and payment. Electric vehicle charging is a new industry and it has attracted many new companies that offer their services. One area that has many companies is the eMobility service provider (eMSP) market. eMSP offers mobile apps to use their charging services (mainly destination and public). The end-user then needs to download and register to the service, and use the service provider’s mobile app. Unfortunately, end-users face multiple different service providers and need to know which one to use at the charging point. The industry should integrate more into existing payment systems, and make it easy for the end-user to use charge points.
Instead of building mass-market vehicles with +500 kms range, the industry should focus on removing charging anxiety, and providing a better end-user experience.
About the author:
Juha Stenberg is a CEO and Co-Founder at eMabler and has 10 years of eMobility experience.
Juha started his eMobility career at Fortum Charge & Drive, then worked as an eMobility consultant when Virta was founded and before eMabler he led Ensto’s charge point business.
eMabler simplifies electric vehicle charging for end-users. Based in Helsinki, Finland the company’s API-first eMobility platform seamlessly integrates mobile payment and commercial systems with charge point operators and manufacturers as well as with energy and service sector companies. For more information, please contact us.