If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy.
This is a quote from Stephen Covey, author of the best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
. His book reads like a manual on how to lead a happy, productive and purposeful existence. Even though it deals with personal effectiveness, it is not too far a stretch (at least I think so) to apply to the business world, more precisely to electric vehicle (EV) charging.
Habit #4 is about win-win relationships, which are based on trust, agreements and systems that support cooperation. In that sense, if we want the relationship between a charge point operator (CPO) and an EV driver to be a ‘win-win’ relationship, there must first be trust, complemented by agreements and systems that support the interactions that drivers and CPOs have together.
At this early stage in which the e-mobility industry is in, there’s plenty of room for developing higher trust levels. Various surveys and market analyses all point in the same direction: drivers only moderately trust the EV charging network, because (too) often charging stations are out of order or not available.
carried out under 1,290 American EV drivers showed that of the drivers using public charging stations, a staggering 58% had experience with some sort of operability issues (technical malfunctioning of the charger or broken connector), and 27% had issues with payments (e.g. payment device offline or card not accepted).
According to another study
by McKinsey, among 500 EV owners, for drivers using DC fast-charging (DCFC) services, the three key decision factors are speed, reliability of service and cost of charge. It is good to differentiate between driver ‘profiles,’ as these three factors will have different weights for different types of charging needs. Especially for destination and on-the-go charging, reliability is priority #1, combined with speed (and costs to some extent) – EV drivers with a low battery charge will understand all too well the importance of having an operational charger nearby. Therefore, they will prefer a company whose chargers consistently work properly.
Trust is often embedded in agreements – if a party meets the requirements laid down in an agreement, they become trustworthy. If they meet agreements repeatedly, they earn real trust.
Like any other industry, EV charging knows many agreements between the various actors: utility companies providing electricity, site owners owning the location of the charging station, charger equipment manufacturers (OEMs), CPOs, payment providers, roaming services providers, e-mobility service providers or eMSPs, and in some cases, maintenance and support providers. Sometimes, we see one of these actors taking on two or more roles at the same time. However, in the end, in most cases, either the OEM or the CPO is responsible for the uptime of the charger. The OEM typically is responsible for properly functioning devices during the warranty period (first 2 – 3 years), and after that, the CPO is.
To stimulate growth and by-pass the ‘chicken-egg’ situation (i.e., lack of investments in charging stations leading to range anxiety with potential EV buyers, and vice versa, lack of enough EVs on the road complicating a positive business case for investments in a charging network), governments have stepped in. Using public investments and other financial tools like tax reductions, local and national governments try to stimulate the electrification of road transport. However, this public support does not come for free - typically, government bodies demand high uptimes, pose minimum power requirements and demand a certain density of the charger network. For example, if you want to receive funding under the NEVI (National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula) program set up by the U.S. government, you have to ensure the uptime of your chargers is minimum 97%.
Habit #4 mentions agreements and systems that support trustworthy interactions between two (or more) parties. When it comes to EV charging, this means the proper systems (resources, tools and processes) must be in place to allow OEMs and CPOs to meet agreements in order to build trust amongst EV drivers using their services.
However, the systems part often is sub-par. Until now, the main focus for OEMs and CPOs has been on growth – capturing market share as fast as possible and outpace the competition. As soon as the stations are operational, the attention span has already shifted to a new region, site or model. But the good news is: this is changing now, not only under pressure from government bodies, but also because the number of EV drivers is growing, and they will choose for the most dependable and trustworthy charging services. So, it is a government-push and driver-pull taking place at the same time, which makes that CPOs and OEMs want to improve their quality of service.
Market surveys show there is still a long way to go. Fortunately, OEMs and CPOs do not have to go this way all alone. Diebold Nixdorf is here to help, e.g., with the mounting and commissioning of chargers, preventive maintenance and with corrective maintenance (break-fix) services. What sets Diebold Nixdorf apart from other service providers is that we have a network of 11,000 service technicians around the world, with a great logistics organization behind them. In addition, we have thousands of spare part stocking locations, and the right tools and processes in place to track spare parts and replacements used. This means we can quickly scale up whenever needed and this way, help OEMs and CPOs grow faster, too, while keeping uptimes and quality of service at the highest level possible.
If you want to learn more about what Diebold Nixdorf is doing in the EV charging domain, then please visit www.dieboldnixdof.com/evc.