Charging Station Software Is Key to Sustainable EV Growth

If electric vehicles are going to start crowding gasoline burners off America’s roads, not only will its charging infrastructure need a big boost, but so will the software at its charging stations.

“Software has a very important role to play in improving the ownership and charging experience for EVs,” said Edward Sanchez, a senior analyst in the automotive practice of TechInsights, a global technology intelligence company.

“Frustration with the inconsistency and reliability of public EV charging has been a major obstacle to adoption, and one of the major contributors to non-Tesla EV owners reporting that they are considering going back to an [internal combustion engine] vehicle,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The proportion of Tesla owners wanting to go back to ICE is much lower,” he continued, “due in large part to the superiority of Tesla’s DC fast charging experience with the Supercharger network.”

Follow Tesla’s Lead

Advanced charger software will address a bothersome problem for current EV owners, noted Emma Orr, bid director at Winning Business, a provider of consultancy services in the U.K.

“One of the biggest issues currently is that not all charging stations are contactless,” she told TechNewsWorld. “Without it, people have to download different apps, and if you are in a location without a wireless connection, you might not be able to connect.”

“We can also expect to see more subscription models and pay-per-use options,” she added.

Sanchez noted that payment charging and initiation are among the top complaints about current charging stations. He predicted there will be a broader adoption of the ISO 15118 “plug and charge” standard. “Tesla was one of the first to market with its own proprietary version of plug and charge,” he added.

Charger software makers ought to look to Tesla for direction, maintained Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst with the Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.

“The Tesla stations talk to the car and handle the transactions far more seamlessly than the others,” he told TechNewsWorld. “The future software should work like that, where you just plug in and look to the car’s internal display for progress without the need for the transactional software on most non-Tesla chargers.”

Crucial Role in Infrastructure

Advanced software at the charger will also be essential as the charging infrastructure scales. “Advanced software at charging stations plays a crucial role in addressing scalability issues as the EV charging system grows,” said Lew Cox, Sr., director of business development at XCharge, a global provider of EV charging solutions.

“Advanced software ensures that EV charging stations can scale effectively to meet growing demand while maintaining reliability, efficiency, and user satisfaction,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Here are some of the ways cited by Cox that advanced charger software can address scalability issues:

  • Better Demand Management. Advanced software can monitor and manage the energy demand across multiple charging stations. By intelligently distributing power, advanced software prevents grid overloads and ensures efficient energy use, even during peak times.
  • Better Load Balancing. Advanced software can balance the load between multiple chargers, optimizing the charging process and reducing strain on individual chargers. As the number of EVs on the road increases, this helps maintain consistent EV charger performance.
  • Better Predictive Maintenance. By utilizing data analytics, advanced software can predict potential maintenance issues before they become critical. This proactive approach minimizes charger downtime and ensures that the charging infrastructure remains reliable as it scales.
  • Better Real-Time Monitoring and Control. Advanced software provides real-time insights into the performance and usage of charging stations. This allows operators to make informed decisions quickly, optimizing the overall performance of the EV charging system as it grows.

Battery Integrated Technology

Cox also maintained that advanced charger software could be used to manage the integration of renewable energy sources into the EV charging infrastructure.

Sanchez, though, asserted that the application and distribution of renewable energy into charging networks will be managed primarily at the cloud level.

“There are also a lot of variables with that scenario, including the availability of renewable energy in the region and the trading of renewable energy credits,” he said.

“There is a possibility that users could be offered a ‘green’ charging option at the charging station at some point,” he acknowledged, “but this is far down the list of priorities, with improved charging station reliability and uptime being the most urgent priorities at the moment.”

Another energy source that could be integrated at the charger level is battery power.

“Battery-integrated technology, managed by advanced software, can store excess energy during low demand periods and release it during peak demand,” Cox explained. “This not only helps stabilize the grid but also ensures there is always sufficient power available for charging, enhancing the scalability of the EV charging system.

‘Load Shaving’

“Being able to manage your load across your chargers is going to be increasingly important,” said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst for e-mobility at Guidehouse Insights, a market intelligence company in Detroit.

“As we have more and more EVs that want to charge, there will be a need to make sure we’re not drawing too heavily on the grid,” he told TechNewsWorld.

There is some concern now that electric vehicles will overtax the grid as their presence grows on the roads. “I think with AI predictability and analytics, the grid will know when and where power is going to be required,” argued Rue Phillips, CEO of SkillFusion, an electric vehicle supply equipment service company in Rochester, Mich.

In addition, batteries can be used for “peak shaving,” he added. “There never has to be a mass burden on the grid because batteries, which can be charged during the evenings, can be used first,” he told TechNewsWorld. “They will triage the power being used by the power stations and not put a mass demand on the grid.”

Waning EV Demand

How soon the electrical grid will start to feel the burden of EVs remains to be seen, as reports of a waning interest in the technology have emerged in recent months.

“The popularity of EVs has been waning due to several factors, including high initial costs that make them less accessible to a broad range of consumers,” said Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in Las Vegas.

“Limited charging infrastructure remains a significant hurdle, causing range anxiety and inconvenience for potential buyers,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Concerns about battery lifespan, recycling, and the environmental impact of battery production have also contributed to hesitancy, as well as competition from improved fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles and hybrids, which continue to challenge the adoption rate of fully electric vehicles,” he added.

Seth Goldstein, an analyst with Morningstar Research Services in Chicago, predicted volatile growth for EVs. “Some years we’ll see more growth than others, but we’re still going to see growth,” he told TechNewsWorld. “It’s not going to be 100% a year for the next decade sort of thing, but it will continue to grow, and there’s still a lot of consumer interest in EVs.”

“Once we have a wide range of affordable vehicles that cost the same as those in the internal combustion engine categories and more fast chargers built along highways, we will see solid EV adoption, with or without subsidies,” he said.

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