In California, Electric Cars Outpace Plugs, and Sparks Fly, but They Shouldn’t

By October 13, 2015 Blog


Over the past 24 hours, I have received no less than a dozen emails from friends, family, investors and board members with a link to this article in the Sunday New York Times.  The article put a smile on my face while a sipped my morning coffee because, in the 4 years since the current incarnation of EVs started rolling out to consumers, no article has better captured why EV Connect exists and the value it brings to the market for EV drivers, station owners and electric utilities.

The problems described in the article, such as access control and station management, are easily solved with Smart and Managed EV charging.  So, what is Smart and Managed EV charging?  It is the ability to manage the EV charging environment through a software platform, such as EV Connect’s Charge Cloud, whereby charge stations are monitored to provide service reliability, drivers are provided efficient access control, and electric utilities have a means of controlling usage of the stations during peak demand periods.  In addition, for EV drivers, it means knowing when stations are available in real-time, and for station owners, it enables them to bill drivers for using the charging station (or give the service away for free as an amenity for their property).

As part of the EV charging ecosystem, a Smart and Managed infrastructure also facilitates driver interaction and communications with the charging stations.  The NYT article mentions an exchange between a driver who unplugs a charge station from another driver’s EV.  In this case, it was fortunate the unplugged driver saw his car getting unplugged.  But what happens when a car is left alone and the EV driver returns to his car to discover that it does not have enough of the expected charge to get home?  EV Connect’s mobile apps, which are an integrated part of Charge Cloud, would have immediately informed the unplugged driver that his car was no longer charging.

In addition to driver notification services, EV Connect has also developed “courtesy tools” to help EV drivers communicate with one another at a location.  For example, we have a feature called D2D, or Driver-to-Driver communications, which enable EV drivers to anonymously ask whether they can unplug another driver’s car or find out when a specific vehicle will be done charging.  This is all done through a well-crafted app on the driver’s smartphone.

Originally developed for the Los Angeles Metro, which has been a pioneer in public EV charging for years, EV Connect’s driver mobile apps also enable drivers to report bad behavior to station owners and/or the local authorities.  We call this our Snitching feature because EV drivers can report (snitch) being “ICEd” (having an EV parking place occupied by a non-EV) or some other EV charging violation.

Matt Richtel’s article also highlights some of the pitfalls of services which are “free” to use.  Free charging in a public environment can have unintended consequences, such as EV drivers leaving their car plugged in for periods much longer than it takes to fully charge the vehicle.  Our data shows  that by simply enabling a small per hour or per kWh fee for charging or being plugged-in without charging, drivers are financially incentivized to charge only when they really need to and to only charge as long as is needed.  EV Connect’s Charge Cloud platform and the integrated mobile apps enable station owners to implement this sort of payment plan, and for EV drivers to pay with everything from a credit card to Paypal.

Smart and managed charging, such as those powered by EV Connect’s Charge Cloud, enable a multitude of robust features and functionality which create an EV ecosystem drivers want to be a part of and station owners can be proud of.

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