The market introduction of electric vehicles (EV) requires preparing the product environment. Electricity networks need to be upgraded, public charging stations installed and electricity charging services should be offered to EV users.
The imminent growth of the EV share in the car market implies technical and commercial challenges. The electricity grid will suffer from the impact of EV stock growth. To minimise this negative consequence, it is crucial to prepare the grid integration of EVs. Charge management, vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-grid are some of the solutions that are planned or that already exist. ICT will play a critical role to allow and optimise the implementation of such innovative solutions. Also, sustainable business models need to be conceived to ensure the deployment of an effective EV environment, which represents one the main challenges.
However, the most relevant technological barriers affecting the EV market deployment have been overcome during the last years. Current charging infrastructure and electricity grids can manage the EV loading process, allowing the use of vehicle batteries as a big distributed storage to balance the generation and load-fluctuation. Batteries can charge power when renewable energies are present in the grid and feed it back into the grid later or take into account electricity tariffs. Furthermore, electric vehicles help the energy industry optimise the load management of their grids.
From the vehicle standpoint, current EV architecture and technology optimise energy management, allowing users to drive more than one hundred kilometres and satisfying their needs as about half drive less than 50 km per day. The EV market share is thus increasing due to the absence of technical barriers and the availability of new models. And even more importantly, hybrid EV models are being gradually replaced by pluggable hybrid models.
On the commercial side, EV manufacturers offer one-stop shopping, which includes EVs, battery renting, charging wall box installation, electricity supply and access to public charging infrastructure.
Nevertheless, business models are not yet sustainable for most of the stakeholders, in particular for EV service providers. This is mostly the result of the low EV market share, currently less than 1%. Also, EV grid integration is in a premature state of commercial deployment and there are very few charging management services on the market. Most of the installed public charging stations can be remotely operated and some of them can perform discharging (V2G) but these services are not implemented, again, due to the low EV stock barrier.
Since the electric vehicle come-back in the 2010s, governments have been promoting policies to stimulate and encourage the purchase and use of EVs. This has a positive impact on EV sales with sustained growth. As the technology is ready and matches the users’ needs, it is now only a matter of time for the last EV barriers to be overcome: a sustainable business model and the reduction of costs. Both are intimately related and have a direct impact on EV attractiveness.
To conclude, the electro-mobility market represents opportunities of high potential for the car industry, ICT and service providers. Alliances with traditional transport sector stakeholders are a viable strategy for improving innovation in the sector. Although the market today remains small for sustainable business models, we should expect the market to grow in the next years with a rise in the number of EVs and the appearance of innovative business models that will increase their attractiveness.