by Stephen Bieda, Director, EV Society
Owning an EV in your native country and learning the process to access public charging can be a challenge for many, but when you are a tourist renting an EV in a foreign culture, it can be even more interesting.
While I was in Oslo, Norway June 11-15th for EVS35, the world’s largest EV conference, I rented a Ford Mustang Mach E and I can attest to the fact that although charging infrastructure is far more plentiful in the Greater Oslo area than in Canada, the need for many apps and methods for payments still makes charging up a time consuming endeavour even for the tech savvy. As the world ramps up to a 100% EV future, the charging infrastructure will certainly have to become much more user friendly and reliable everywhere and for all types of users.
One solution might be a temporary travellers membership so that tourists can have a better EV charging experience. The Norwegian EV Association (NEVA) has taken a step in the right direction with their own charge roaming RFID tag and mobile app which allows its 115,000 members to avoid the need for multiple apps and payment methods for activating a charge session. Working towards EV rental operators having access to such a roaming RFID tag and or app would be a welcome solution.
This project took NEVA’s full time staff and technical committee 18 months to develop the platform in association with a third party software developer. The “Charging Club” service as it is known, has become the key member benefit for the NEVA members because it makes charging up at various participating networks simple and hassle free. The Charging Club is a network roaming service that supports charging at various networks including: Recharge, Kople, Ionity and Powered by E.ON & Clever in Norway. It also provides access to 275,000 charging points and Europe.
Language preference is also an important issue that EV stakeholders in every country need to address at the earliest possible step to ensure a successful charging station activation process. Language selection is an especially important issue for EV car renters and rental car operators. Until ISO 15118 Plug and Charge technology is widely available, we can expect to have real challenges to overcome with the EV driver experience as there are many steps to think through in the charging process particularly in an EV renting or shared mobility type scenario.
Another smart member benefit that NEVA introduced (at EVS35) is a telematics device for checking battery health. Members can rent access to a telematics device for checking the battery State of Health (SOH) of their EV. For those EV owners looking to buy or sell an EV, the NEVA battery health check service generates a detailed report for a fee of $210 CAD. The device connects via bluetooth to an OBD2 port device much like a Leaf Spy, Torque Pro and other such scanning tools, but provides a detailed report with specific criteria selected by NEVA.
Meet-up with Global EV Alliance Members
While at EVS35, I was also able to join the meeting for the Global EV Alliance (GEVA) which is a worldwide association of national EV owners’ groups. More than 30 people were in attendance with 11 representatives from NEVA, 3 from the Ukrainian EV Association, 1 from France, 1 from Slovenia, 1 from Poland, 1 from Costa Rica and 1 attendee interested in forming a group in Thailand. Unfortunately, the US representative from Plugin America had to cancel just days before due to covid.
The Ukrainian contingent was of particular interest to attendees as they explained what it was like while under siege by the Russians in Ukraine. Their sentiment was largely positive as the attendees explained that although some had to relocate to Central or Western Ukraine, that they had some degree of safety outside of the major cities that were under attack at least in the near term. Apparently, in Western Ukraine the economy is still able to function on some level unlike the other regions to the East.
A common theme throughout each GEVA members’ brief introductions was that there was considerable EV sales growth occurring everywhere, but the charging infrastructure was not keeping up. Also, the charging user experience needs to improve.
The GEVA group attendees all found the energy of being together in Oslo to be an exciting way to share best practices but looked forward to carrying on discussions about their learnings at the conference in future online GEVA meetings.