Thought Leadership

Owning the EV charging customer relationship


Last year VW announced its group would be “establishing a company for energy offerings and charging solutions – underlining its strategic goal of becoming a leading provider of sustainable mobility. Elli Group GmbH with its headquarters in Berlin is to develop products and services connected with energy and charging for the brands of the Group”. This announcement had many people confused, why would an automotive brand make such a lateral move and why now? Why haven’t they previously done this for fossil fuels?

The short answer – it’s the future of mobility.

As the mobility sector moves from fossil fuels to renewable energy, vehicles will become an epicenter of data. The household car will interact with its surroundings, creating and receiving data points. The entry points and journeys come in various shapes and purposes. In typical e-mobility fashion, these data exchanges can be explained with a few acronyms.

V2G - Vehicle-to-grid is the process of electric vehicles working with the power grid to ensure a balanced load. This can involve slowing the input to the car but also exchanging power from the car back into the grid.

V2I - Vehicle-to-infrastructure is the communication between road infrastructure and a car. This technology is essential for autonomous driving and mapping.

V2H – Vehicle-to-home is the process of a vehicle connecting to, and working with, the owner's home. It could act as an emergency energy source for the home or storage.

V2V – Vehicle-to-vehicle is communication between vehicles, to provide vital information, such as traffic information or safety alerts.

V2X - Vehicle-to-everything is the umbrella term used to describe any kind of data from a vehicle to another entity or vice versa.

As you can see, the EVs of tomorrow unlock an ecosystem of new markets. Unlike gas/petrol cars, an EV acts as a junction for other dependent services, especially with V2G and V2H. It’s not just energy that’s transferred, it’s also data. Connecting all the “V’s” will revolutionize the way we use energy as well interact with our cars. At this year’s CES we witnessed a variety of automotive innovations in this field. Companies like Ouster are creating Lidar sensors to develop the V2I/V2V, whilst platforms such as Everon give CSPs control of their charging data. Something essential for V2G integrations in the future.

This innovation is exciting, but the current customer experience is too complex. A regular car is filled with petrol in a streamlined transaction, the EV process involves multiple players. Compare that with the EV driver who has multiple energy providers for their homes, perhaps another for their car, as well as a roaming service and additional extras for future innovations. The V2X space needs companies that can connect various technology and turn it into one proposition. In a recent webinar Accenture’s Lasse Hari explained that smart bundling was critical when solving the customer experience.

The opportunity

To recap, we have a growing demand for electric mobility, exciting product innovation for infrastructure, new players in the energy sector but a fragmented experience and complex customer propositions. Larger companies with transferrable experience are needed to bundle solutions and streamline the offering. We think utilities are well placed to solve this dilemma; they bring a deep understanding of energy infrastructure as well as an understanding of the end customers.

As automotive brands branch out into energy, could utilities become the data experts of an interconnected future? Is your business looking into the right markets? Could you be the one to own the customer relationships?