A recent study by McKinsey & Company highlights the need for an impressive 3.4 million public charge points by 2030, signalling a significant opportunity for Charge Point Operators. Despite the current achievement of over 600,000 public charge points in Europe, CPOs face a highly competitive market.
Our comprehensive analysis, based on surveying thousands of EV drivers across Europe on the Monta app, reveals a nuanced landscape. CPOs, while navigating competitive challenges, have the potential to build profitable, scalable businesses that meet the evolving needs of EV drivers. We delved into these aspects, exploring the primary concerns of EV drivers during the charging process, the vital role of CPOs in expanding roaming networks for a seamless charging experience, the nuances of EV driver price sensitivity, and the expectations from CPOs as we approach 2024.
This blog post is a deep dive into these insights, exploring how CPOs can leverage these challenges and opportunities to align with the needs of EV drivers, ensuring a robust and customer-focused EV charging infrastructure.
EV market growth is still not at its peak
While the EV market has experienced substantial growth in recent years, the majority of its expansion is still on the horizon in 2030. Residential and public charge points are poised for significant growth, with untapped potential in both segments.
EV drivers still do not have a seamless charging experience
Despite the anticipated growth, EV drivers still face challenges, with a staggering 74% reporting issues during charging. Our analysis, based on 1,277 drivers surveyed across the UK, France, and Germany, indicates that only 26% experienced no problems in public charging over the last six months. The quest for a seamless charging experience remains a central challenge for the industry.
How do you make charging an EV as seamless and simple as fuelling an ICE car?
User-driven improvements at Monta
At Monta, we are dedicated to constantly enhancing the charging experience for our valued users. To achieve this, we actively seek feedback by asking our users to rate each charging session. In 2023, we received an impressive 75,000 ratings, which formed the basis of our comprehensive analysis.
It is important to note that while we encourage users to provide feedback, only about 2% of charging sessions received ratings. Nonetheless, these ratings provided valuable insights into user satisfaction in various charging scenarios, including both home charging and public charging.
The results of our analysis exhibited a U-shaped distribution. This means that users fell into two distinct groups: those who were highly satisfied and those who were dissatisfied. By examining these extremes, we gained valuable insights that helped us identify areas for improvement and further refine the charging experience.
Charging performance of AC and DC chargers
Hardware quality plays a pivotal role in shaping the charging experience. Our findings reveal substantial variations in hardware ratings, with DC chargers outperforming AC chargers. Many factors drive ratings and there are quality differences between hardware producers, however, investment in DC chargers has contributed to a higher overall quality, ensuring a positive charging experience for users. The faster the charging, the better the charging experience, one might say.
The charge point operator also affects the rating
When it comes to the charging performance, what also matters is who runs the charger, not just the hardware model. In the following average rating of main operators, most use cases are OCPP and the operators use Monta.
What matters is how well operators take care of the charge points, which brands they use, how quickly they react to issues, what pricing they set, what technology capabilities they have, etc.
The most common reasons for failed charges
The issue of failed charges during EV charging is a common concern that users often encounter. Traditionally, one would expect to receive a failed charge report through the OCPP module, allowing for a timely resolution of the problem. However, our data analysis revealed an interesting finding – not all failures are captured in the OCPP system. In fact, approximately 20% of bad ratings cannot be explained by officially recorded failed charges.
Bad ratings are based on the following OCPP signals:
- 27,707 – Total “1” and “2” ratings
- 1,476 – Timeout (cable not plugged in)
- 3,050 – Other timeouts
- 871 – Connector already charging
- 16,238 – No bad OCPP message but <0.5 kWh
- 5,767 – No bad OCPP message and >0.5 kWh
When examining the system, we discovered clear indicators of some charging failures. For example, there were cases where charges timed out due to the cable not being properly plugged in. Additionally, we noticed instances where the OCPP system did not send a negative message, yet energy transmission of at least 0.5 kWh occurred. These inconsistencies intrigued us and prompted us to delve deeper into user comments.
Out of the 5,767 comments we examined, 3,327 users provided insights into their charging experiences. Some common themes emerged from these comments:
- Charging interruptions: Users expressed frustration over sudden charge interruptions with no apparent reason. These interruptions could be triggered by issues with the system, the car, or the charger itself. Such unexpected interruptions understandably lead to frustration.
- Charging speed: Some users reported that the charging speed did not meet their expectations. Factors such as the grid connection, the specific EV model, or the charger’s capabilities can influence the charging speed. Users desired a charging experience that matched their expectations.
- Payment and pricing: Users reported difficulties with payment functionality or had a lack of understanding regarding the billed amount for their charging sessions. Some users experienced complete payment failures or struggled to comprehend the breakdown of charges related to their sessions.
- App functionality: Users provided feedback on bugs they encountered within charging apps and expressed their expectations for additional features. Any app-related issue or missing functionality was duly reported by users.
Energy amount drives ratings
When it comes to EV charging, user satisfaction is closely correlated with the amount of energy provided. EV drivers, being human, tend to rate their charging experience higher when they receive a greater amount of energy. In other words, the more you charge, the happier the EV driver.
This finding emphasises the importance of delivering sufficient energy during charging sessions to ensure user satisfaction. By providing ample energy, charging service providers can enhance the overall experience for EV drivers and contribute to a positive rating.
Time of the day also affects ratings
Our analysis revealed that the time of day significantly influences ratings of EV charging experiences. Different times of day result in varying levels of satisfaction or frustration for users. The graph above illustrates the average ratings based on the time of day.
During the middle of the night, failed charges were found to be particularly frustrating for users. This is because a failed charge at night means waking up to an uncharged car in the morning, causing inconvenience and disruption to daily plans.
On the other hand, mid-day charging sessions received the highest ratings. Users appreciate the availability of alternative options or the opportunity to try their charging attempts again during the day.
Understanding the impact of time of day on ratings enables us to identify critical periods where users may face challenges or experience greater satisfaction. By considering this information, we can work towards improving the charging experience during peak times and minimising frustrations during off-peak hours.
Dynamic pricing: fashion or fad?
Pricing is a major factor for EV drivers when it comes to selecting a charging station. However, it is essential to delve deeper into whether drivers agree with the current charging costs.
Drivers believe that public charging costs are unfair
In our effort to understand the sentiment of drivers towards public charging costs, we conducted a survey asking users to express their agreement or disagreement with the statement: “The costs of public charging in my country are fair.”
39% of EV owners and potential buyers strongly disagreed or tended to disagree with the statement. In the UK, the perception of unfairness in public charging costs stands out compared to other countries. As an industry, we want to change this perception.
Among older generations, range anxiety and a lack of understanding of pricing are the main barriers to buying an EV. The inconsistency in pricing between different apps or platforms for the same charging point adds to the confusion. Why does it cost one thing which is ten times more expensive for the same thing in one app and another app when it is the same charge point?
To address these concerns, the industry should focus on improving pricing transparency, ensuring consistency across platforms, and educating consumers about the factors influencing charging costs. Collaboration between stakeholders will be crucial in creating a fairer and more positive charging experience.
How Dynamic Pricing helps bring out the fairness in charging costs
What do Dynamic Pricing and fairness have to do with each other? Traditionally, charge point operators would set a fixed fee per kWh and purchase electricity from the market. However, this approach often resulted in operators either selling at a loss or setting unfair prices during certain hours of the day. This created fairness concerns for customers and posed risks for operators in terms of pricing strategy and profit margins.
By adopting Dynamic Pricing, charge point operators can adjust their pricing based on the real-time market prices of electricity, which fluctuate hour by hour throughout the day. This allows them to accurately cover their costs and offer EV drivers fair prices, ensuring a more equitable pricing structure. It also enhances transparency and allows operators to provide clear explanations to stakeholders regarding their pricing strategy and the margins they can expect.
How can CPOs set up Dynamic Pricing?
We allow charge point operators to go into the charge point pricing system on the Monta Portal where the spot price is retrieved automatically from the data provider. There, they can:
- Follow the spot price (incl. or ex. VAT)
- Mix dynamic and fixed prices
- Set a minimum and maximum threshold
- Include a relevant grid tariff
- Add a fixed margin
- Add VAT on everything (or a % margin or both)
- Set a fallback.
How do customers experience pricing?
Monta users get maximum transparency from the start. When a price is dynamic, an icon is displayed to indicate that it is subject to change. By clicking on the icon, customers can view the price trajectory over the upcoming time, allowing them to make informed decisions and potentially adjust their charging time to take advantage of lower prices.
For users who don’t have fixed grid tariffs to follow, Monta has recently introduced a tariff configurator tool. The Tariff Creator enables charge point operators to tailor and manage time-based tariffs based on their specific needs and accommodate different electricity arrangements. Given the diverse nature of grid tariffs across Europe, this tool was created to provide flexibility for operators to set their own prices or select the desired grid tariff. Prices can be set on a seasonal basis, on specific weekdays, or even hour by hour, defining high, medium, and low rates accordingly.
In addition to dynamic pricing, Monta offers SmartCharge, which benefits EV drivers by allowing users to automatically charge during periods of lowest prices. However, the availability of this feature is determined by charge point operators, as some may choose not to allow their users to delay charging and potentially block the charge point. Typically, the SmartCharge feature is beneficial in workplace settings where vehicles remain parked for extended periods, enabling users to take advantage of the lowest prices.
Overall, Monta aims to provide customers with transparency, flexibility, and the ability to optimise charging costs through dynamic pricing, tailored tariff options, and SmartCharge features.
Dynamic pricing is becoming widespread
Dynamic pricing is beneficial for charge point operators and EV drivers, but it poses a challenge for e-mobility providers (EMPs). It provides more stable margins for CPOs, which can lead to follow-up effects such as reduced capital consumption. Typically, CPOs must source capital from big funds, corporate mother companies, or banks, and avoiding complex hedging strategies can be beneficial in these cases. Additionally, dynamic pricing instils more trust with customers, as they can see the underlying cost of electricity transparently over time. This transparency provides a clear indication of the cost passed to the customer, which can be a significant advantage in establishing customer trust. Furthermore, dynamic pricing encourages the use of renewables, making it grid-friendly and environmentally sustainable.
While dynamic pricing provides many benefits for CPOs and EV drivers, it presents challenges for EMPs. However, the adoption of dynamic pricing can create more stable margins for CPOs and instil customer trust over time. Additionally, the use of renewables and transparent reporting of the underlying costs of electricity are beneficial for the environment and the grid.
- More margins for CPOs
- Instills trust as it is aligned with underlying costs
- Known from the fuel business
- Grid-friendly for a more efficient ecosystem.
Challenges – only relevant for public charging and roaming. Primarily for EMPs:
- Harder to create price transparency
- Roaming platforms not (yet) following
- OCPI not fully fit-for-purpose (updates 1x per day)
- Takes away from the EMP business model.
- Powering the future of EV charging
The future of EV charging holds immense potential for charge point operators as the demand for public charge points continues to rise. With the right strategy and customer-centric approach, CPOs have the opportunity to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of EV charging and position themselves as leaders in the industry.
To access further insights into our analysis, we invite you to watch our informative webinar recording on this topic.