Electric vehicles: unleashing media models for EV charging
by Akid Zolkifli, associate consultant at Capgemini
Analysts have long forecasted that car owners would abandon traditional fossil-fuelled powered vehicles and go electric. Currently Electric Vehicles (EV) still only represent 1% of the global market but as large car manufacturers add to their EV portfolios and more countries ban the sale of fuel powered vehicles, it’s predicted that EV numbers worldwide will increase to 140 million by 2030.
This acceleration of EV adoption not only affords new opportunities for traditional utility companies to capitalise on the rising projections of electricity demand, but also allows newer organisations the chance to embed themselves along the value chain - be it through infrastructure installation, energy distribution or new service offerings.
The challenge lies with not how to get more drivers invested, but where owners can charge their vehicles. According to our latest Cars Online Trend Study, a lack of consumer understanding of how and where to charge e-cars is one of the biggest obstacle to purchase, with four-fifths (80%) of consumers surveyed stated the availability of charging stations as their biggest concern.
There is a need to evolve current infrastructure to ensure efficient, smooth transformation and distribution, as currently 80% of charging is carried out at home with longer travel requiring substantial planning. In fact, a total of $360 billion is required over the 8 years to meet investment requirements, yet customers EV charging behaviour is still unknown and so progress has been slow.
As such, it must look beyond itself and learn from other industries, drawing parallels and feeding of their experience.
Entertainment vs. EV Charging
With a history of serving modularised products, the entertainment and media market could be one such source of insight and experience. While not obvious at first, there are arguably strong similarities between the two industries in terms of how service providers differentiate through subscription services or bundles. This gives their customers flexibility and choice at the point of sale. With the right platforms and technologies, it could be equally achievable for EVs. If we park aside the physical infrastructure needs, the ability to deliver choice to customers removes significant uncertainty from the market, leaving room for companies to explore various avenues for differentiation.
Netflix, the market leader in entertainment, operates a monthly subscription, which allows customers an all you can binge-watch product. With a well worked out pricing strategy, an EV charging company could target the binge watcher equivalents, most likely the high-mileage drivers. This is comparable to EVgo or ChargeMaster who offer access to their EV charging points at a fixed monthly prices. Companies will bundle services to their charging options. This could be variety of tariffs, other energy services, or other vehicle services. What we should not assume, however, is that by subscribing to an EV service, the end consumer might indeed be purchasing other products directly too.
An alternative to the subscription service is the flexibility to purchase extra bundles, such as the case for NowTV and Sky Q. The capacity for on-demand services means consumers remain loyal to the basic streaming and be assured that they do not have to over commit. This model is typical for home charging EV customers. Although EVs can charge from domestic power sockets and pay via electricity bill or ‘subscription’, companies such as PodPoint and NewMotion are offering installation of EV charge points within the home or business with options of extras such as smart management optimisation of charging stations.
Finally, the traditional pay-as-you-go model such as Blinkbox and Amazon Video, allows consumers the freedom of choice and only pay for what they’ve watched. This approach is being used by Shell who have invested in 10 EV charging stations in their own petrol station as well as BP partnering with FreeWire Technologies for mobile charging service. The benefit of the pay-as-you-go model is that car drivers are used to this model and so does not require a change in consumer behaviour.
From the above, you can see that some EV charging companies are already taking initiatives and replicating the entertainment business models through subscription, extra bundles and pay-as-you go models. This has enabled them to carve their own market and increase customer loyalty through flexible options.
There are also EV charging companies which are taking on other innovative models to carve their market niches. NewMotion is using a prepay top-up cards, Ecotricity, a company popularised for its green energy initiatives, is providing discounted tariffs for home electricity bills, which in turn provides their customers discounts at their EV charging stations; and Ovo Energy is also applying discounted tariff, free memberships to charging networks and using cars to balance the national grid during times of high demand meaning owners benefit from cheaper charging.
The EV revolution
The key to EV charging success is in learning from other industries and focusing on customer centricity. Infrastructure organisation must become more flexible to the modularisation of products which in turn will appeal to different customer segments. It’s clear that all the work will reside on the technologies and platforms at the point of customer interface.