Driving EV adoption by improving the EV charging experience
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Nov 6, 2020
Joshua Elyea

New challenges in understanding and standardizing a seamless EV charging experience await those responsible for the deployment, management and maintenance of this infrastructure, particularly in the areas of reliability and uptime.

Source: FLO

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This article is presented by FLO

In Canada, electric vehicles (EVs) and their requisite charging infrastructure have been the focal point of significant investment over the last several years, with almost 6,000 publicly available charging stations deployed. However, as the geographical footprint of this technology continues to grow, new challenges in understanding and standardizing a seamless charging experience await those responsible for the deployment, management and maintenance of this infrastructure, particularly in the areas of reliability and uptime.

To accelerate EV adoption in Canada, uptime is key

As Canada looks to transition to a more sustainable future, the effort to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in the country has been significant. The continued deployment of publicly accessible charging infrastructure, often made possible through federal and provincial incentive programs, has helped to make the transition to electric a more appealing proposition for many Canadians; and while range anxiety still exists, infrastructure providers and other key stakeholders inside the charging ecosystem are continuing to work diligently to expand the breadth and scope of this new and necessary technology. 

However, as with any new technology, unexpected challenges can often rise to the fore, and some industry experts have begun to notice that today’s EV drivers, especially in areas with substantive public infrastructure, are often as concerned with a station’s operational status as they are with finding a charge to begin with. This lack of certainty in the status of a charger, known as charger anxiety, is a problem for all stakeholders inside the charging ecosystem, from the infrastructure provider to the site host to the drivers themselves. This threat of downtime, whether from scheduled maintenance or station malfunction, has led some in the industry to believe that delivering on a more reliable charging experience is the key to accelerating EV adoption in Canada. 

“Moving forward, a reliable charging experience will be a major factor helping to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in Canada” says Louis Tremblay, President and CEO of FLO®. “Drivers need to feel secure not just in their ability to find a charge, but also to access it easily and reliably when they arrive at the charging station. It’s no longer enough to just have dots on the map…hardware providers and network managers need to start thinking about how industry quality standards can help us further accelerate the electrification of transportation.” 

And if we are to understand quality as the key to EV adoption in Canada, then attempting to understand what constitutes quality in a charging experience and moving to standardize it across the sector becomes an intensely important exercise. 

This brings us to uptime

Let’s talk about uptime

Uptime is an easy concept to understand at its core. If downtime is time logged when the charger is unavailable, then uptime is the inverse, the total amount of time that a charging station reads as operational. In the charging industry, uptime is often measured over the course of a calendar year, and it has become a valuable metric through which EV charging hardware providers and network managers can speak to the reliability of their charging experience.  

“Establishing a consistent and transparent way to talk about uptime across the industry could immensely improve the charging experience for Canadian EV drivers,” says Benoît Masson, Vice President of Operations at FLO. “But it’s important to remember that there are many factors that come into play when attempting to measure uptime in a quantifiable way, and that a few percentage points make a significant difference in the overall downtime of a charging network. Downtime can leave an EV driver frustrated or in a worst-case scenario, stranded, so the difference between seven days of downtime and fifteen days of downtime is pronounced.” 

Matrix Comparison of Uptime as Translated to Days of Downtime 
Uptime
(Percent, One Year Period) 
Approximate Equivalent Downtime in Days
(One Year Period) 
99% 4
98%
97%11
96%15
95% 18
Provided by FLO 

A more reliable charging experience requires effort from all

At the end of the day, everyone in the charging ecosystem is accountable for uptime, from the station manufacturer to the network operator to the site host, and that accountability stretches beyond the initial purchase and installation of a charging station. Choosing a solutions provider that can offer not only quality hardware but also network management services that schedule proactive monitoring maintenance and offer speedy repair services can help ensure that stations are operational when drivers need them. 

“At FLO, we like to lead the way,” says Tremblay, “and our mission has always been to accelerate electric vehicle adoption by providing the best possible charging experience to our customers. We believe that by making reliability a pillar of both our hardware and software design, we can provide a more dependable charging experience for drivers and make the transition to EVs a more convenient choice for many Canadians.”

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