7 ideas to improve the charging experience

Charging infrastructures are developing at a rapid pace, but there is still room to optimize the EV driver’s experience.

At Automobile Propre, we like (electric) cars, but we can’t help but like something a little more important to making them work: the charging infrastructure.

If the latter are now on the right track of strong, rapid growth with an exponential curve, there is still a need to improve the charging experience for the electric motorist on the move. Some networks have already realized this by offering services and innovations, such as Electra with its reservation system or Fastned with its “switch” stations and protective covers equipped with photovoltaic cells.

But is it enough? Yes, in most cases. But because we’re picky and like to look for the little beast, our user experience regularly leads us to imagine services and features that don’t yet exist (or, anyway, don’t exist on a large scale or we don’t know about). could make life a little easier for electric car drivers.

7 device ideas that we present to your smartness. If you have others, feel free to mention them in the comments, this might work in case of misunderstanding.

Charging cable with coil installed in the car

You all know the proverbial canister vacuum and its retractable cord with a spring-loaded winding system. With this innovation, manufacturers have solved the problem of power cords and extension cords, which you never know where to keep and which collect as much dust as the said vacuum cleaner. Such a system would really make life easier for the EV driver. Take this cable out of the trunk so we won’t lie to each other (or angry), opening it up, plugging it into both ends – a car socket and a terminal socket – is really as unpleasant a restriction as possible, messy and even potentially traumatic for certain fragile organisms given the weight of the mess. Or worse: I know someone who broke his Tesla’s glass roof by hitting the Type 2 plug while taking it off the highway (basically the cable slipped off it and splashed on the back). clean by breaking the glass). So, sure, the device will take up some space and weight, and maybe raise regulatory questions about its safety, but nothing that really seems insurmountable. And the occupied space will be as much space saved in the trunk …

Limit charging time at saturated stations

This is one of the favorite arguments of the anti-EVs: saturation of charging stations (real or likely) during the big summer migrations, in fact, for a few days or a few hours a year, on heavy traffic days. In any case, given the rapid growth of the electrified car fleet, it may be interesting to imagine a system that limits the charging time to X minutes in case of a strong rush. Of course, this can raise issues of fairness, as not all cars charge at the same rate and have the same autonomy, but by no means is any system a perfect egalitarian. An average can be found to provide at least 100 to 150 km of healing before the charging stops and you have to leave the room. Remember that on busy days, Tesla charging stations cut off the charge at 80% and a message is displayed on the screen asking you to leave space. In that case, you can restart the charge and stay in case you need more.

Ticket to take your turn

A numbered ticket system (yes, social security or McDo) in turn at stations with still heavy traffic to prevent the inevitable conflicts between drivers with the generalization of electric vehicles and the changing geometry of civic mindedness. When the terminal is free and it’s your turn, it rings and displays your ticket number. Is it terrible? stupid? Electra already has a reservation system, which is seen as an interesting and smart initiative. This would be the “reverse” version, nothing else. By the way, this device can be integrated into the network software, which will allow you to do something else while you wait and get a notification on your phone when it’s your turn.

Cross-platform application to manage cargo

Of course, with the exception of Chargemaps and others, every car brand and every network has its own apps. But there are still specific, increasingly common use cases that really need to be streamlined and simplified. Example: charging stations in public car parks. For city dwellers without private parking or personal charging stations, having a “cross-platform” app that works with all networks and all charging stations would really be a plus for the handle, for those who have no other option but to charge at this type of charging station. cargo. Especially knowing the free terminals and being able to reserve one rather than rushing to the underground car park and having to leave because all the charging points are taken.

An indicator of the number of free terminals in public places

By the same token and in the order of comparative use, it would not be superfluous to visually inform electric motorists of the presence of recharging located immediately on the perimeter. For example, with a counter at the entrance or near public parking lots, it shows the total number of terminals, the number of available terminals and, let’s go crazy, maybe their power and prices. After all, the number of free spaces is indicated at the entrance to the said parking lots, why not the number of free charging stations?

A badge with a QR code and a personal message to indicate its charging time

No doubt you have come upon a charging station installed in the main square of a municipality while roaming in the hope of recharging. Bad luck, two charging points are taken and you have no idea when one of the responsible car owners will come to collect their wagon. This is where the badge system comes in handy. Mounted on the windshield, it will display the scheduled departure time, like a stop disc, so you know if it’s worth the wait or if it’s better to continue to another terminal. These types of tokens already exist, but the knight in us whispers in our ear that the dematerialized digital version will bring other services. The badge will not only display a QR code that, after scanning, will display the scheduled departure time pre-entered by the uploader in a special app, but also an instant and secure messaging service that will allow you to contact the owner. really free the place. And maybe other services (for example, being able to change the time in case of delay). The app will be secure and will require you to prove your identity (even your car’s VIN) before you can use it to prevent misuse and abuse. Another advantage: not having your departure time displayed more clearly on the windshield… A lower-tech alternative: being able to display your departure time by entering it directly into the terminal, it just appears on your screen.

Revenue management to modulate tariffs according to load

It is a recognized management method for hoteliers, airlines, car rental companies and all travel related service providers. Based on the principle that an unoccupied room, space or car is lost because the service cannot be maintained, all travel and accommodation giants have implemented robust and sophisticated programs to adjust their rates based on demand. Basically, the higher the demand, the higher the price and vice versa. Lastminute.com, among others, was even founded on this principle. Given that the electric car charging sector can sometimes result in saturation, other times the stations are empty and the needs are not the same everywhere and at the same time, the product is just-in-time (discrete) service by definition. of a few still rare cases) it does not seem unreasonable to imagine productivity management The price of terminals programmed as finely as possible according to demand and many other criteria will be included in the algorithm. Tesla already offers an off-peak system with lower fares, which is a good start, but it’s safe to say that this approach will expand and become more finely segmented.

At the end

We wish charging stations had stepped up their offerings two years ago. This is on the right track and even a reality for many of them. The market is perhaps ripe for a second phase, more cosmetic, once more bold and innovative, which today is on the side of producers such as operators and infrastructures.

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