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Theme #4: Speed of Technological Development

The title of this post may look like a strange statement for someone in a charging company to be making, but it’s true. The speed of technological change in the EV and connected vehicle space generates a probable, serious risk; that without greater planning of charging infrastructure deployments today, we’re all wasting an awful lot of money on infrastructure that will very quickly (or in many cases, already has) become out of date in the context of fast-approaching, future mobility technologies.

So then, the key for those responsible for deploying charging infrastructure (as they respond to the Speed of Technological Development - Trend 4) is to take steps to ensure that infrastructure deployed now remains fit for purpose (or is future proofed) as mobility technology advances. Difficult right? Well, not everyone thinks so; ‘Things happen fairly slowly. These waves of technology, you can see them way before they happen and you just have to choose wisely which ones you’re going to surf. If you choose unwisely, then you can waste a lot of energy, but if you choose wisely, it actually unfolds fairly slowly. It takes years.’…so can you guess who? Yes, Steve Jobs.

Nevertheless, it’s always easy to come up with these quotes in hindsight and in today’s market, predicting the future is a risky business. So, any predictions on technological advances beyond the next 5-10 years should be taken with a (big) pinch of salt. However, there are some critical infrastructure technologies/trends that anyone in the mobility space (and particularly in EV charging) should be considering, if they are to mitigate the risk of obsolescence:

Induction Charging - The future of EV charging is uncertain, but one driver of this evolution will be advancements towards Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs). It seems unlikely that CAVs will be able to plug themselves in, or (in a shared mobility world) require the user to plug the vehicle in, it therefore seems likely that future CAVs will be charged through some form of induction infrastructure. Prototypes already exist for induction charging in EVs (mainly in the high cost/supercar vehicle space) and start-ups continue to bring new products to market that challenge the weight and efficiency of the technology.

Vehicle to Grid - Whilst challenges remain in realising the potential of Vehicle to Grid (V2G) power transfer, small scale deployments (particularly on the continent) have given some indication of the value this technology could offer. There is huge potential for V2G-linked EVs to support wider grid balancing efforts and at a more local level, particularly in large infrastructure where power demand is high (airports, heavy industry etc.), to take the role that large scale battery storage offers in reducing power costs and vulnerability to outages.

Telecommunications - Morgan Stanley and others report that CAVs will generate huge volumes of data and that, to operate optimally, will need to be able to transfer this data quickly and securely across a superfast telecommunications network. To interface effectively with CAVs of the future, charging points need to become smarter and considerably more connected. This is both a challenge to and an opportunity for EVCP operators to add capabilities, which can both future-proof infrastructure deployments and potentially create additional revenue streams.

So why’s this important? Well, as highlighted in my recent posts, a lack of suitable, conveniently-located and reliable charging infrastructure is now the key barrier to people switching to EV ownership. Without more informed planning and consideration of likely future requirements, the risk of not future-proofing charging infrastructure is twofold; not only that we waste precious public and private investment funds, but that in future, we find ourselves in the same position as today, where we have insufficient/incapable infrastructure to support the adoption of new mobility technology.

So what can we do now if we don’t understand/cannot bet on future technologies? Well in our view, flexibility is key – intelligent design, manufacturing and installation that builds flexibility into EVCP infrastructure.

If you’d like to understand how we’ve built flexibility into our system, to avoid stranded assets and wasted investment, come and speak to us at Connected Kerb about our future-proofed EV charging and smart cities network.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn