January 29, 2024

How to empower utilities with secure EV telematics programs

Winona Rajamohan

Content Marketing Manager

Maria Kretzing, GM of Electric Vehicles and Analytics at Bidgely, joined Smartcar CEO Sahas Katta, to discuss why EV telematics boosts managed charging enrollment and how utilities can ensure data privacy and security when deploying this software-led strategy. Watch the event recording here or keep reading for key takeaways and a telematics vendor assessment checklist.

Why aren’t some demand response programs successful? 

According to Maria, customer enrollment and engagement are the biggest barriers to a successful demand response program. 

Studies show that although regulators expect 80% of eligible customers to enroll in a managed EV charging program, only 20 to 30% actually do. Comfort plays a big role here. EV drivers are not comfortable participating in a program that isn’t transparent about data collection and management and the overall impact managed charging would have on their vehicles or day-to-day habits. 

“Some traditional methods have complex enrollment [processes] — like needing WiFi for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) where you can suddenly lose connection to the device,” Maria says, touting the benefits of EV telematics in overcoming hardware-related pitfalls. 

“The thing I would note about Smartcar that really should be the guidance for how we implement [managed charging] programs is it’s a matter of a few clicks to connect the device, it’s fully transparent to the customer, but doesn’t require the customer to jump from application to application to confirm enrollment,” she adds. 

A report by SEPA concludes that customers are unlikely to drop out of a managed charging program once they find a program that gives them that optimum level of value and comfort. With an easier enrollment process and EV telematics providing more robust data than EVSEs, Bidgely has seen higher enrollment rates, fewer drop-offs, and most importantly, high continuation rates for existing participants. 

Interoperability is the new clean energy standard 

Proactive managed charging is largely a ‘set it and forget it’ play. But this approach requires utilities to better understand their customers. For example, a driver’s familiarity with EVs, charging habits, average travel mileage, and household energy consumption will influence the kind of value they want to receive from both their vehicle and their demand response program. 

But with EVSE charging hardware, utilities don’t can’t see if customers charging their car elsewhere or what their battery level is — which makes it hard to optimize  programs for these value drivers. 

Utilities need access to EV telematics data across as many EV brands of possible to get that level of visibility and impact. But it’s uneralistic for energy providers to reach carbonization goals while engaging in the slow and resource-intensive process of managing over 30 individual partnerships with automakers. 

Overcoming this challenge calls for automakers to open up their data to third-party developers who can accelerate the clean energy transition with user-centric programs and solutions. 

It's in the best interest of the broader [energy] space as a whole to go in that direction and to support the policies that [enable] ownership or customer availability of [EV] data.

— Maria Kretzing, GM of Electric Vehicles and Analytics at Bidgely

Bidgely believes that automakers, utilities, and clean energy vendors must encourage interoperability between different devices and brands to solve the huge problem that is grid resilience and decarbonization. 

Access to standardized EV data helps customers visualize their electric vehicle as both a transportation and energy asset. Automakers can build excitement for electric vehicles by enabling drivers to apply for suitable energy preferences that reduce energy costs and transmissions. 

On the other hand, utilities can increase participation for managed charging programs, shift load demand from peak hours, and save billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades. 

Telematics security best practices for utilities

If interoperability is the new standard, how can utilities ensure that they have the right mechanisms in place to keep customer data safe and secure? 

Maria recommends utility IT teams get a walkthrough of how vendors like Bidgely collect data from customers to power managed EV charging programs, including how they work with vendors like Smartcar to access accurate live data. 

Utilities can also access SOC 2 certifications, penetration testing reports, and GDPR compliance documentation ahead of time. 

API interoperability and security is an emerging concept in the automotive world despite it being well adapted and executed by financial institutions, social media platforms, and more. A lack of clarity surrounding vehicle API safety is apparent, and often leads to misconceptions. 

“What [Smartcar] offering is not just a firehose where you can pick any car and get anyone's charging status or control their charging, but rather that it's user consent opt in explicitly through OAuth2.0 that the vehicle owner has to choose what application or utility they're connecting their car to and see what specific permissions they'll be sharing,” says Sahas. 

Bidgely has seen more success when it gives customers the ability to opt in to managed charging programs by assessing its data sharing requirements and giving utilities permission to retrieve those particular data points.

We've been able to achieve a lot in terms of giving customers full control and full choice so that they can decide how when they participate in demand response events.

— Maria Kretzing, GM of Electric Vehicles and Analytics at Bidgely

Get an EV telematics vendor assessment checklist

Smartcar works with partners like Bidgely to help utilities evaluate EV telematics security and compatibility for managed charging programs. We help utilities answer questions like…

“Will this connected car platform equip your EV program with enterprise-grade security compliance that meets industry standards?”

“How does your connected car API platform monitor integration performance and communicate with you about technical inconsistencies?”

“What qualifications does your connected car API platform have for issuing and managing commands with electric and connected vehicles?” 

If you’re a utility evaluating Smartcar as a vendor for your DERMS and VPP partners, download this guide see how Smartcar stacks up. 

Get the vendor assessment checklist for utilities and energy retailers ⚡️

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