Four Ways to Rev Up the Electric Vehicle Play
This article is published in collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services.
One of the biggest deterrents preventing consumers from buying electric vehicles (EVs) is the lack of sufficient fast-charging stations for long-distance travel.
While new business models emerge, a lot more needs to be done to change the status quo. By 2030, EVs are likely to account for more than 60% of vehicles sold globally. As the number of EVs on the road increases, the EV-per-charger ratio can help assess the feasibility of the charging network.
According to the International Energy Association (IEA), the ideal EV-per-charger ratio is 10 EVs for each charging connection. However, in most markets, from Europe to the United States and India, sales of EVs have surged in the last year, and the number of EVs to a charger is far higher than the recommended ideal.
To be sure, industry lines are blurring, and we are seeing some uncommon alliances come together to fulfill a pressing need. For instance, retailers like Kruger, Ikea, and Starbucks are doubling up on EV charging stations to offer customers a charging facility while they shop or grab a coffee. Across industries, from energy and utilities to hospitality, companies want to be a part of the emerging electric vehicle ecosystem. Examples include Duke Energy’s park-and-plug program, which assists business customers with the installation of direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations, and hotel chains like Hilton and Holiday Inn, which provide electric vehicle owners with charging facilities. Yet, we have just scratched the surface: we still have a long way to go as electric vehicles and charging stations become the norm with easy access to fast-charging stations.
There are four easy ways to rev up the EV play.
1. Take charge. Bring down the cost of installation
To accelerate the charging station penetration, it is important to reduce the upfront cost of installing EV chargers. The cost of EV chargers is determined largely by the time it takes to charge or the level of charging required. There are three levels of charging—level 1, level 2, and level 3. The fastest, level 3, is the most expensive to install. Installation costs can run as high as 200% or more of the total equipment cost. Other costs include permits, cabling, location, and software.
Partnership models with charge point operators (CPO) and utility companies can be leveraged to share capital expenditures. Of interest are initiatives like automaker Nissan partnering with European electricity companies like E.ON, EDF, and Enel on the e-mobility opportunity in countries like the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, and Italy. And utility company Tata Power is taking the lead in installing EV chargers in collaboration with different partners across India.
By 2030, EVs are likely to account for more than 60% of vehicles sold globally. As the number of EVs on the road increases, industry players need to come together and collaborate to enable long-distance travel.
2. Faster charging. Government intervention will improve EV infrastructure
Charging an EV to run 100 miles (about 160 kilometers) can take anywhere between 6 minutes and 26 hours, depending on the charger type. For instance, direct current fast chargers can charge an electric vehicle from zero to 80% in 20–60 minutes, but are available at only 12% of America’s EV charging stations today. Prevalent are the level 2 chargers (which take 4–10 hours to fully charge a vehicle) and level 1 chargers (which take 40–50 hours from empty to full charge). Level 2 and level 1 chargers will continue to be dominant in the foreseeable future, presenting an opportunity for players across retail, food, and hospitality to partner with charge point operators. But there is a pressing need to improve the infrastructure for faster charging. Government intervention with incentives such as tax credits to help offset the cost of installation will spur this shift.
3. Collaborate across the board. Make EV chargers more accessible
EV chargers can be made more accessible and affordable through greater collaboration between urban planners, building developers, and electrical-equipment suppliers.
In the US, the Clean Cities Coalition Network, a resource of the US Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Office, has 75 active coalitions looking to implement alternative fuels, fuel-saving technologies and practices, and new mobility choices.
These coalitions comprise businesses, fuel providers, vehicle fleets, state and local government agencies, and community organizations.
4. Propagate open networks. It is essential to standardize the charging infrastructure
In February, Tesla announced that it will partially open its proprietary charging network to non-Tesla consumers. Tesla has the largest fast-charging network globally.
The move is significant, as other players with proprietary systems may follow suit by opening up for collaborations. The pressing need is for the EV ecosystem to expand and for players to come together to standardize the charging infrastructure.
To accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, the entire ecosystem play has to come together with greater collaboration, standardization, and even government intervention.
This article was first published by Tata Consultancy Services on 7 June 2023.
Consulting Partner, Tata Consultancy Services
John Quillinan is a consulting partner at TCS, focusing on travel and logistics. He has rich experience in the airlines, hospitality, and rail sectors in a career spanning over 20 years. He has worked in operations research and planning roles at United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Trans World Airlines over the course of 10 years.
He holds a master of science degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and a bachelor of science in industrial engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.