electric vehicle (EV) charging station

Accessible, Available EV Chargers: Reducing “Range Anxiety” with Interoperability 

By John DeBoer, Head of Siemens eMobility Solutions and Future Grid Business in North America

The electric vehicle market is having its moment in America.

 

Just last week, President Biden signed an Executive Order that sets a new target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles. And the week before that, the U.S. government reached a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework deal that includes a historic investment in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure. Specifically, it calls for $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, with a focus on highways and routes that connect both rural and disadvantaged communities.

 

While the U.S. is currently among the lowest quartile for electric vehicle infrastructure, this EV framework is a critical move for the United States that could bring us into a leadership position in the industry. It’s good for business, for the climate, for our workforce, and for our communities.

 

But with any changing industry, the transition to electrified transportation doesn’t come without challenges. We know two major barriers to EV adoption are “range anxiety” and “charge anxiety,” the first being the concern over the perceived inability to reach a destination, and the second the concern about the inability to find or use a charger on the way.

 

As an EV driver myself, I have four different key fobs and 10 different apps just to be able to charge my car at the various charging stations. That’s because in the U.S., EV drivers typically must sign up with multiple charging network operators to be able to use and make payments at their various charging stations. The public EV charging systems in today’s market live on proprietary islands and most if not all of them don’t allow for the use of credit card. But we have the opportunity to change that with technologies that already exist today, and progress is underway.

 

Interoperability for EV Charging

To mitigate these challenges, improve customer experience and drive EV adoption, charging stations need to be as ubiquitous and convenient as gas stations. We need open and accessible charging capabilities and payment equity. In other words, we need interoperability that, in turn, requires different hardware and software technologies to connect and communicate with one another.

We need open and accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging capabilities and payment equity. In other words, we need interoperability that, in turn, requires different hardware and software technologies to connect and communicate with one another.

Interoperability provides additional benefits including greater competition between technology providers to increase innovation, enhance performance, and drive down costs. For these reasons and more, Siemens strongly supports open standards and interoperability.

 

One solution to the interoperability challenge is Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), an open-source communication standard for EV charging stations and network software companies. OCPP has been implemented by nearly all EV-charger manufacturers and charger software network operators for this connection.  Unfortunately, the market is full of tricks. As technology is procured, it is important to ensure that different service providers can use the hardware deployed and that the software applications work with different hardware providers. The result is that site owners and consumers can pick and choose chargers and charger software networks independently—and, in the future, choose a new network operator for performance, cost, or other reasons.

 

Further, payment interoperability for public charging stations will improve the consumer experience, ensure equitable access and promote EV adoption—as it has done in the EU, where the vast majority of public charging stations are connected to an interoperable data network.

 

Standardizing and unifying protocols for EV charging is one of our most pressing priorities at Siemens, which is why we launched a Siemens eMobility Partner Ecosystem that now includes more than 25 Electric Vehicle Service Providers (EVSPs), installers and project developers, EV original equipment manufacturers, and more to support transportation electrification, increase accessibility, and help ensure a more equitable EV future. We’re also an active participant in shaping and promoting standardization for EV charging solutions, and manufacture products and solutions to evolve with emerging standards. At our eMobility hubs in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, and Wendell, North Carolina, we perform ongoing testing to focus and ensure the interoperability and accessibility of our solutions.

 

Our eMobility future is filled with amazing vehicles, new opportunities for business, jobs, and cleaner air. By prioritizing open standards, we can ensure that the investments of today will ease our society’s transformation to an eMobility future with safe, open-standards based, and accessible charging infrastructure throughout the country. As we share these recommendations with federal leadership, along with other public and private sector stakeholders, we do so with the hope that the whole country can prioritize interoperability as we build the infrastructure that transforms the transportation sector.

 

Published: August 11, 2021