Have you faced the trouble of carrying multiple credit and debit cards in your wallet, unsure which one will work? Drivers of electric vehicles (EV) worldwide face a similar problem: having to maintain multiple access cards and mobile applications to charge their EVs at charging stations operated by different providers.
This clutter can be best solved by interoperability—the use of standardised infrastructure that allows different market players to work together without restriction. Interoperability makes EV roaming possible in which EV drivers access charging stations operated by different providers through a single application or platform. Agreements between market players such as charge point operators (CPO), mobility service providers (MSP), and roaming platforms facilitate this integration.
Roaming reduces range anxiety for EV drivers by providing them access to a wide network of chargers through a single account. This leads to consistency in service levels, simplified billing and a seamless user experience. Increased demand helps market players attract new customers, monetise investments and expand to new geographies by collaborating with existing networks. Aggregating both demand and supply induces network effects, benefiting the entire EV ecosystem.
Roaming, a recent phenomenon, has found traction in Europe’s mature EV markets and is beginning to pick up steam in the USA. Numerous technology options (e.g. Open Charge Point Interface, Open Inter Charge Protocol, Open Clearing House Protocol and eMobility Inter Operation Protocol) and business models (e.g. peer-to-peer, clearinghouse and hybrid) are in use, with countries customising roaming arrangements according to their requirements. Although market players are often motivated to participate in roaming to improve business viability and customer experience, policy and regulation are increasingly playing a part.
The CEEW Centre for Energy Finance (CEEW-CEF) is collaborating with eDRV, a technology venture in the EV charging industry, to encourage market players in India to consider tailored roaming structures which can address challenges specific to the Indian political economy and ensure maximum benefits to the EV ecosystem. This project aims to combine the lessons drawn from mature EV markets with the market realities of India to draft a framework for roaming in public EV charging networks.
India is at an early stage in electric mobility transition, which provides an opportunity to proactively forge a consensus that would expedite this transition. The aforementioned project will focus on public charging, which sees the greatest benefits of interoperability and which is critical for consumer convenience and confidence. The project will identify functional, technical, legal, and policy gaps in implementing EV roaming in India.
The project was kickstarted on 30th July 2020 at a roundtable discussion amongst a panel of Indian and international experts. Participants, which included CPOs, fleet operators, think tanks, government institutions, original equipment manufacturers and utilities, emphasised the role of interoperability in faster adoption of electric mobility and shared their perspectives to help boost the project’s work.
As a public exercise, eDRV and CEEW-CEF plan to regularly engage the larger electric mobility ecosystem in this project through webinars, discussions, and publications. If you are a part of this ecosystem or have an interest in EV roaming, we would be happy to hear from you.
Part 2: The benefits and challenges of electric vehicle roaming
Part 3: The importance of electric vehicle roaming for India