April 12, 2023

The chicken or the egg: How EV software is solving the EV adoption dilemma

Winona Rajamohan

Content Marketing Manager

Recent industry statistics and regulations prove that electric vehicles are no longer shiny new toys for early adopters. On the contrary, they’re well on their way to mass market acceptance. Smartcar CEO, Sahas Katta, joined Energize Ventures and CEOs from Monta, Sitetracker, and DroneDeploy for a CEO panel discussing how software is supporting the most significant transportation shift in recent history.

With countries racing to meet decarbonization targets and global automakers pledging to invest over $1 trillion in EVs and batteries, EV players face a new challenge: How do they build a reliable electrified transportation system by scaling EV charging operations and building driver-friendly experiences?

Almost all electric vehicles are connected cars that can produce 25 to 67 billion data points daily, opening the doors for cross-collaboration and a fresh start outside legacy systems.

Enabling convenience with consumer-centric apps and services

Beyond the upfront costs of an electric vehicle, a 2022 consumer survey revealed that the biggest concerns American drivers have are related to range anxiety and EV charging accessibility.

Source: AAA

The average driver in the US drives about 30 miles daily. Although overnight EV charging at home makes up nearly 80% of charging behavior, EV drivers want assurance that they can reach any destination smoothly.

Building more EV charging stations isn’t the catch-all solution to range anxiety. In fact, a study of 181 charging stations in Northern California discovered that a quarter of EV charging ports were not functional. There’s also the risk of investing in EV charging infrastructure that is underutilized due to unclear guidelines for drivers and property owners.

Software allows us to use accurate real-time data to bridge gaps in the consumer experience that didn’t exist with gas-powered vehicles. This includes locating nearby chargers that aren’t in use and matching ride-hailing passengers with EVs with enough range for their trips. EV drivers and fleet operators can also use third-party apps to:

⚒ Get predictive vehicle maintenance alerts

🔋 Build battery health reports

💵  Use pay-per-mile financing for fleet electification

🍃 Measure an EV's carbon footprint

“The ownership experience is created by lots of third-party apps trying to make EV ownership easier,” says Sahas Katta, CEO at Smartcar.

“Beyond an automaker’s official app, EV drivers use third-party apps to plan their driving routes, integrate EVs with home energy management systems, and get reimbursed for work mileage.”

🧰 Building with connected car data

Explore four lessons Smartcar learned while helping mobility businesses across industries build apps with connected car data

👉 Read our blog

Aligning policymakers, corporations, and drivers

Eileen Warris, Principal at Energize Ventures, brings up the classic “chicken or the egg” problem that has thrown a wrench in EV initiatives over the past decade — which comes first, widely available EV charging infrastructure or high EV adoption?

But the answer to that question becomes a little more complicated when you think about where and how drivers charge their vehicles.

“[EV charging stations] are not going to replace the classic gas station setup. Most consumers won’t go [to an EV charging station] very often if they can charge at home or charge at work,” says Casper Rasmussen, CEO at Monta.

Destination charging covers most EV charging needs, so we don’t necessarily have to wait to install hundreds of thousands of public charging stations to make EV adoption happen. However, it creates a more nuanced environment that must consider each location's regulations, permitting processes, and driver expectations.

With that being said, local governments and businesses must be strategic about future-proofing their EV charging network amidst policy changes, cost fluctuations for drivers, and record numbers of new EVs making their way into the market. Software aligns all stakeholders in the EV industry by introducing agility to processes like:

  • Track and centralize project and vendor management for the construction of EV chargers
  • Surveying sites for businesses and property owners to implement an EV charging network
  • Balancing electricity supply and demand with smart charging
  • Managing EV charge points in different locations or for different use cases (e.g. highways, commercial fleets, multi-unit dwellings)

Leveraging an ecosystem of purpose-built tools

The electric vehicle industry comprises a complex network of players specializing in different verticals, services, and products.

This ecosystem of policymakers, public institutions, businesses, manufacturers, and utilities typically work together to operationalize different parts of their workflow and reduce turnaround times. But many organizations fail to recognize just how diverse this ecosystem is thanks to the rise of vehicle connectivity and software.

“The industry is now becoming more aware that there are purpose-built tools for their specific use case,” says Giuseppe Incitti, CEO at Sitetracker.

🔋 EV charging operators can use Drone Deploy and SiteTracker to accelerate the construction of charging sites

🔌 Businesses and property owners can use Monta's EV charging management software to streamline operations and end-user experience of EV charge points

🧰 Developers use Smartcar’s API to build a software solution or mobile app that can communicate directly with a majority of EVs using a single integration

Building solutions and infrastructure for EVs is a relatively unfamiliar and volatile territory. The good news is that organizations can break their processes down and work with experts who can help them learn and execute nuanced strategies faster.

There isn’t a Swiss army knife that can solve all the challenges that come with EV adoption — from constructing infrastructure to engaging with regulators and delivering driver experiences and incentives. The EV industry must learn how to leverage different software to stay ahead of the ebbs and flows of transportation electrification in the coming decade.

Open data is changing the mobility industry

It’s important to note that a software-led approach is most efficient and agile when players within the ecosystem are willing to share data that can help shape better policies, incentives, and infrastructure.

The next step in the EV revolution is for industry stakeholders to invest in an open data environment that increases cross-functional collaboration while protecting every driver’s right to the data they use. What does this do?

  • Encourages the deployment of smaller, localized EV charging networks that can meet the unique needs of different communities
  • Allows businesses to easily adapt and upgrade their services by working with any hardware that meets Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) standards
  • Enables stronger public and private partners to test and deploy EV programs faster, including road usage charge and demand response initiatives
  • Helps EV drivers make their own decisions about their vehicle’s data and supporting apps without being dependent on automakers and dealerships

The Smartcar team is excited to help mobility businesses develop apps and services that prioritize user choice, privacy, and experiences.

Alongside companies like Sitetracker, DroneDeploy, and Monta, we believe in using software to remove siloes within the EV industry and optimize resource expenditure for the highest possible impact.

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