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Research firm Frost & Sullivan said insufficient infrastructure has been the main dampener for the wider adoption of electric vehicles (EV), with user concerns revolving around the insufficient number of charging stations across a widespread area and cumbersome methods of authentication and payment.
The research firm stated the implementation of user-friendly authentication and payment systems will go a long way in improving EV uptake.
Currently, the most common method of authorizing access to charging stations is the membership model. EV drivers register with charging station networks provided by specific utilities. For an initial deposit and/or monthly charges, registered users are issued radio frequency identification (RFID) cards that can be used to authenticate and initiate charging at a station.
Frost & Sullivan remarked this subscription-based model is popular among charging station owners because of its profitability – it locks in a proportion of the limited customer base for a specific time period, ensuring easy return on investment.
However, it is inconvenient for EV drivers. The payment options are limited, drivers cannot use available facilities unless they are members of the network, and registering with multiple networks means carrying multiple RFID cards.
“The subscription method misses the opportunity to tap into current social trends and a connected community with its widespread adoption of smartphones and expectations for digital and real-time transactions,” observed Frost & Sullivan ICT Research Associate Shuba Ramkumar.
Besides RFID cards, other emerging authentication and payment options in the EV market involve using Short Messaging Service (SMS), mobile apps, or a mobile wallet on a smartphone.
Even then, registration with the charging station provider remains a prerequisite for using the payment options, which can be a stumbling block for non-member EV drivers.
“The adoption of near field communication (NFC) within the EV market can be a game changer in EV drivers’ experience,” opined Ramkumar. “It has the potential to provide secure authentication and access to authorised entities, and is being tested in Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) smart city project in Friedrichshafen. The results may prevent NFC from being written off as a mainstream technology in a connected society future.”
In short, a logical first step to encourage more EV users is empowering them with charging network availability and convenience of payments.
The research firm concludes charging station owners will benefit from having more EVs on the road and should work towards the easy-to-use, fast, end-to-end authentication and payment services.