How Advanced Tech is Improving EV ChargingMar 30, 2023 | 7 MIN READ
The Jetsons was set in 2062 which means we still have time to work on the flying cars. In the meantime, we’re making some significant advancements when it comes to motor vehicle technology. Electric vehicles, obviously, require baseline tech to run, but beyond the battery and the hardware, there’s quite a bit of technology that’s, pardon the pun, driving the EV industry and helping to improve the EV charging experience.
- Understanding Basic EV Tech
- Advanced EV Technology
- How Advanced Tech, like AI, is Improving Electronic Vehicle Charging
Understanding Basic EV Tech
There are, essentially, three types of vehicles on the market, combustion engines which require fuel, electric vehicles which rely on electromagnetism and a battery to deliver electricity, and hybrid vehicles which use a combination of both. We’ll be focusing on electric vehicles.
Public EV infrastructure relies on three separate technologies for basic functionality: the car itself needs a charging station which, in turn, needs a network to manage the charging station and provide charging access to consumers. There are, of course, variations on this set up. For example, not all charging stations are networked, but that’s a discussion for another blog. For the time being, let’s assume the EV charging station is networked, which means the host or owner can access it (and check its status) remotely. Let’s look, briefly, at each of those.
EVSE Network- An EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) network provides a direct connection to the charging unit for host/owner and drivers through a cloud based application. It allows hosts/owners to manage the charging station and drivers to find open and available chargers when on the road.
EV Charging Station- These also vary depending on the type of charger, Level 2 or Level 3/DC fast charger, but the general idea is the same. The station includes the housing, cables, and hardware to connect an electric vehicle and allow it to charge from the power grid. There are also different types of connectors, depending on the vehicle being charged. Most vehicles use the J1772 connector, though some makes (Nissan and Mitsubishi) use CHAdeMO, and then Tesla has its own connector as well. Charging stations may be equipped with more than one connector, but only one can charge at a time.
Electric Vehicle- Where a gas powered vehicle would have a gas tank, an electric vehicle has a charging port that the charging station connects to. For Level 2 chargers, the charger delivers AC power and the car’s battery converts it to DC which then powers the vehicle. In the case of DC fast chargers, the charging station delivers that DC charge right to the battery, with no need for the car (or battery) to convert.
The Battery- EV batteries are rechargeable lithium-ion batteries designed to balance power and weight. More specifically, they’re lighter and capable of holding more (and different) power, to help with vehicle performance. Additionally, they have greater longevity than traditional car batteries, though they can be subject to some of the same environmental degradation.
And, much like all technology, this tech is still evolving. In fact, across the board, automobile technology is improving and that also has an impact on electric vehicles.
Advanced EV Technology
Just like you don’t see Model T’s on the road, and early EVs look quite different from today's version (from make and model to design), advancing technology is helping to improve the electric vehicle experience for drivers, charging station owners/hosts, and stakeholders in the EVSE space.
In fact, just ten years ago, despite EVs having been around for a decade, electric cars were limited. For consumers, the cars were expensive and the infrastructure just didn’t exist. For municipalities and businesses, fleet electrification was a pipe dream. The goals and promises of EV technology just weren’t yet matched by the realities, but that’s all changing.
In addition to advancements in accessibility and improvements in charging stations and their networks, additional technologies are changing the way drivers interact with charging stations and the way station owners and hosts can interact with drivers and open up revenue opportunities.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There are few tech spheres these days which aren’t being significantly impacted by AI and electric vehicles and their infrastructure are no different. In fact, there are a few key ways AI is improving infrastructure and EV support.
- Infrastructure planning- By evaluating adoption rates and other regional information from electric grids and more, both the United Kingdom and states in the U.S. are using algorithms to help determine the best placement for new EV charging infrastructure. One of the biggest issues facing the industry and stymying adoption rates is the existence (and reliability) of charging stations when and where drivers need them.
- Route planning- Speaking of infrastructure placement…On the driver side, and particularly useful for electric fleet management, smart phone maps and more are able to determine where charging stations are, along your planned route or based on a driver’s destination. When range anxiety is an issue, knowing that there is tech out there to help drivers find a charging station enroute is a huge boon to the driver side of EV infrastructure.
- Power and grid management- During peak demand periods, with more EVs on the road, and with an increase in demand for fast charging, power and grid management becomes a major issue. Utilities are looking into ways to leverage grid data, combined with crowdsourcing charging needs, to best prepare the grid to balance the loads when needed.
- Research and Development- One of the reasons there’s been such significant integration of AI into so many industries is its ability to provide analysis based on data, and to do so far more quickly than a human can. The advantage here is the analysis can be used to gather data on every aspect of electric vehicles and make improvements in batteries, charging, and performance itself.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
You may have been exposed to RFID capabilities in your workplace or in other locations where access is limited or restricted to authorized individuals. When it comes to EV charging stations, being able to leverage the amount of control you have via your EVSE network is huge.
For example, on the owner/host side NovaCHARGE’s ChargeUP provides unprecedented control enabling station hosts and owners to set hierarchies and multiple rules that impact power usage and cost for individual users. RFID enables charging stations to recognize those users. Then, for entities like a municipality, this means you can allot more power for municipal fleet vehicles, provide discounts, and more, all based on that ID.
Geofencing opens up a lot of capabilities, some of which can be paired with RFID technology to limit usage and charging station perks to geographical areas. A geofence creates virtual boundaries on a set geographical area. For example, a municipality could set a geofence that centers outside a downtown area to ensure city EVs charge only outside areas where there is high demand. Using an EVSE network, the geofenced area could offer free charging to city vehicles further encouraging their usage. Similarly, with power management options, geofencing could help increase ROI on charging stations in those high demand areas.
Further, using geofencing in coordination with the charging application on the driver side, or with charging stations equipped with a screen, means you can leverage geofencing for local advertising that can also provide revenue generation.
Technically, bots could fall under AI, but when it comes to EV charging stations, they’re doing more than analyzing data. In fact one of the reasons NovaCHARGE stands apart is through its use of NovaBOT, an AI assistant. NovaBOt works through ChargeUP to test the status of NovaCHARGE (or co-branded) charging stations, alerting hosts and owners when there is an issue. Further, these bots complete predictive maintenance and are able to address level 1 tech problems, reducing truck rolls and improving charging station reliability without the need for human intervention.
There are, without a doubt, a lot of changes left to come when we look at the EV charging and infrastructure landscape, so one of the best things you can do is look for a partner who’s setting the standard and future proofing your EV infrastructure.
How Advanced Tech is Improving Electronic Vehicle Charging
Thus far, there have been two predominant challenges when it comes to EV infrastructure. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation as well. EV adoption has been limited by EV infrastructure and infrastructure has been hindered by the lack of demand or the ability to see where there are revenue opportunities. Changes in EV technology put EVs in a price range that made them more accessible for drivers which has, in turn, increased the demand for infrastructure.
Now, technology is catching up on the infrastructure side and that’s improving the charging experience for everyone involved, from drivers to station owners/hosts. As a result, this is spurring even more interest in EVs and how other technologies can improve the experience. We’re seeing great strides in accessibility and, as a team, we’ve put that and flexibility at the forefront of our solutions.
With ChargeUP, EV charging station owners and hosts have unparalleled control over nearly every aspect of the charging experience and we’ve designed it to create flexible business models that drive true ROI. We know that the landscape is shifting and changing all the time, so with our eyes on the horizon, not only are we prepared for the ways that advanced technology will change EV charging infrastructure, but our solutions are designed with that in mind as well.
If you’re ready to see how NovaCHARGE’s EV charging solutions can help you leverage the evolving tech and be a part of a sustainable future while still delivering ROI and generating revenue, let’s schedule time to talk.