What Exactly Is EV Roaming?
To understand why roaming is so crucial for the EV market, it is important to understand what it is exactly. One of the most significant barriers that the EV market faces in many countries is the infrastructure used for public charging. Without roaming, EV drivers would need to sign-up to multiple charge point operators to make use of their charging facilities. In addition, many of these CPOs make use of different payment facilities, such as credit cards, subscriptions, physical RFID tags, or apps. Keeping track of all of these can quickly become a nightmare for EV drivers and"range anxiety" is still a significant factor for many in deciding whether to purchase an EV or not.
EV roaming is the process whereby charging system providers offer EV drivers a hassle-free charging experience regardless of which provider they are using. They can simply plan their routes according to the availability of EV charging stations and make use of these with a unified customer account.
What Are The Benefits of EV Roaming?
One factor that has hampered a wider adoption of EVs is "range anxiety," which is the fear experienced by drivers that their vehicle won't have enough energy storage to reach their destination without leaving them stranded. Autolist's 2021 Electric Vehicle Survey has once again highlighted that range is the number one consideration for consumers looking at EVs. This was followed closely by Charging Infrastructure (https://www.autolist.com/news-and-analysis/2021-survey-electric-vehicles). To address range anxiety, some EV manufacturers have made use of plug-in hybrids, which use gasoline engines as a backup, but roaming is the better option.
EV roaming can provide drivers with the peace of mind that they will be able to reach their destination without having to worry about finding a compatible charging station. In addition, not all EV owners have charging points at home yet, which means that they rely on external providers for their charging needs. With EV roaming, they won't have to search for a charging station that belongs to a specific provider and can make use of whichever ones are closest to home.
Of course, not only EV drivers benefit from roaming, but also operators. Instead of a captive customer base using their chargers, roaming also means more users and increased charger utilization. This results in a faster return on investment for the charge point operators.
Another benefit of roaming to charge point operators is the ease of expansion. Instead of having to invest heavily into infrastructure when expanding their operations into new areas, operators can instead begin by partnering with networks that are already present. Doing so decreases their time to enter the market and the level of investment that is needed. In addition, CPOs can also benefit from higher customer retention due to access to other networks.
Finally, roaming is beneficial for fleet operators who are considering making the switch to electric for their vehicles. Instead of having to invest in costly private charging networks or being limited by specific networks, they can use roaming to save costs and cover a larger area.
What Are The Barriers To EV Roaming?
Despite the clear advantages of roaming, there are still some barriers that need to be overcome for it to become more widespread. The first is high prices for roaming, which can occur in instances where standard rules and principles are not implemented. This can result in asymmetric competition between charge operators.
Another issue is the lack of information needed for EV drivers to take advantage of roaming fully. These can include data, such as the location and availability of charging stations, as well as the costs involved with charging sessions.
For EVs to become the future of travel, it has to meet or exceed the ease and convenience of using cars with internal combustion engines. Roaming is one of the most critical steps toward making this a reality, as eliminating range anxiety alone already addresses one of the biggest concerns most drivers have about EVs.
As roaming becomes more common, the EV market will continue to grow, which is a win-win situation for EV drivers and service providers. In fact, a report by the International Energy Agency has highlighted that sales of electric cars more than tripled their market share from two years earlier (https://www.iea.org/commentaries/electric-cars-fend-off-supply-challenges-to-more-than-double-global-sales). In the end, this will be a win for everyone as the world moves towards a cleaner, more sustainable future.