The next generation of electric vehicles will prioritize customer experience
A new generation of EV startups and forward-thinking energy companies are rethinking the way consumers interact with their EVs. They’re leveraging data to create smart charging, route planning and demand response applications that help customers get more value from their EVs.
Use cases that help customers save money, save time, and control their carbon footprint are about to become critical. And building them is easier than you might think.
The EV customer experience is falling short
The two main reasons why customers buy EVs to reduce costs and their carbon footprint. In a YouGov survey across nine European nations – Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK – 51% of consumers said they bought an electric car to help the environment, and 31% said they wanted lower running costs.
Currently, EVs only partially deliver on those promises.
In the midst of an energy crisis, charging a car isn’t necessarily any cheaper than filling it up with gas. Even Norway, the global leader in EV adoption, has felt the pain of this in recent years. In Summer 2020, it cost just $0.06 per kWh, or $4 to fully charge an EV. By 2022, energy shortages meant that the price had skyrocketed to around $40 – a 10x increase.
And EVs aren’t helping us transition to a renewable energy system as quickly as we might like. Our grid isn’t built to handle the demand for electricity that millions of new EVs will generate. That could lead to outages, unless we find a way to balance demand with supply.
In an ideal world, customers would have more control over their EVs. They’d be able to respond to the grid, save money and reduce their carbon footprint. And, they’d be able to do it automatically, without having to juggle several different apps. Achieving this requires data.
To improve the EV customer experience, you need data
While there’s an enormous amount of data inside EVs, it’s currently only being used to help manufacturers and operators – not customers.
EVs are able to monitor driving patterns, track mileage, and detect sudden braking or acceleration. EV manufacturers can use that data to build new features.
Likewise, operators of large fleets are able to monitor tire pressure and mileage, and can remotely disable a vehicle if it’s stolen, or goes outside a geofenced area. Some EVs analyze their own data, automatically diagnosing faults and booking maintenance appointments in order to save operators money before the problem gets worse.
Even insurance companies can use EV data. Some are already offering incentives to drivers if they connect EVs to their apps. They offer tailored insurance rates based on EV data and driving patterns.
But what about drivers themselves? They own the EV. They also own all the data it generates. Shouldn’t some of it be leveraged to improve their experience, so they can share in the value of EV data?
How EV data can create better customer experiences
Product managers can leverage EV data to create new use cases that significantly improve the customer experience for EV drivers, and increase engagement with their apps. The possibilities are almost endless, but three major value-adds are smart charging, route planning, and demand response.
1. Smart charging
Smart charging automatically shifts EV charging to off-peak periods. It sends a signal to your customers’ EVs to stop charging when energy costs rise, or there’s low supply of renewable energy, and to start again when prices and supply are optimal. Smart charging ensures customers’ EVs are fully charged by a set time, while helping them reduce their EV charging bill by up to 50%.
2. Route planning
Smart route planning automatically accesses your customers’ EV State of Charge (SoC) and battery capacity in real time. It uses this information to calculate and display nearby charge points and estimated charging times, so your customers can effectively plan their route. It reduces range anxiety for customers, and enables you to maximize your network capacity. You can reward customers for charging with your network, and incentivize them to charge at times when there’s less pressure on the grid.
3. Demand response
Demand response involves reducing or shifting electricity consumption at peak times in order to balance the grid. Residential participation has traditionally been low as it requires manual intervention by homeowners. But connecting to EVs and other residential energy devices means they can automatically respond to signals from the grid. It balances the grid in real time, and means customers can earn money from their EVs by participating in the ancillary energy market.
APIs take the complexity out of accessing EV data
The reason more of these (and other) use cases aren’t already on the market is that accessing and utilizing EV data is challenging. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) automatically transfer data to and from EVs. But there are a few problems with EV APIs.
- Interoperability isn’t currently prioritized by many EV manufacturers, and some even make it difficult to access their APIs.
- Even when they can be accessed, there’s little consistency between the APIs of each EV manufacturer.
- Each brand and model returns different data at different speeds, and that means Product Managers have to spend a lot of time on the complex technical work of standardizing it.
Creating consistent customer experiences that serve the whole market depends on finding a solution to these problems.
Fortunately, there is one. Enode provides a single API so that product managers can instantly connect 300+ energy devices, including a wide range of EVs, to their apps. Our ready-made integrations and out-of-the-box functionality for smart charging and route planning make it easy to normalize EV data, and add optimization.
Enode makes accessing EV data easier, so product managers can focus on building better customer experiences, and shipping them faster. Improving the customer experience adds value for individuals, and that, in turn, will accelerate global EV adoption.
To find out how Enode could help you be a first-mover in a fast-growing market, check out our use cases.