Connectivity is a crucial component to the evolving EV ecosystem and IoT offers huge benefits to all stakeholders across the value chain, including EV drivers, Charge Point Operators (CPOs), and network operators. In order to connect, maintain, and manage the different parts of the EV ecosystem (charge points, payment systems, locators, maintenance, etc.) there is a strong need for resilient and secure two-way connectivity and not just in locations where wired infrastructure isn’t always readily or easily available.
But there are challenges in developing the EV ecosystem, including infrastructure management, addressing customer experience, profitability, maintenance, monitoring, energy management, and ultimately, how to create a universal ecosystem that works for everyone. IoT will play a crucial role in bringing it all together.
Managing charging stations
Charging stations are geographically dispersed, making it challenging and expensive to manage ‘onsite’. IoT enables CPOs to remotely monitor and manage operations and quickly resolve issues by presenting real-time insights into usage and device performance, including charger availability, fault monitoring, and troubleshooting – all of which help enormously when it comes to predictive maintenance and reducing downtime. Additionally, as charging station buildouts increase, data on existing deployments will help operators more accurately plan locations for new stations. Data can also be used to optimize charger utilization, identify areas for improvement, and track trends over time.
EV charging apps can search for nearby stations, check availability, and reserve a slot at the time required, based on battery capacity. Apps can also indicate charging rates or advise on off-peak hours for lower-cost charging.
Even at the best of times, energy rates vary throughout the year. Additionally, as EVs become increasingly prevalent, it’s crucial to be able to track charging stations in order to decrease grid load, because if a lot of people are charging their EV at the same time, this can put strain on the grid. By tracking and monitoring charging stations with IoT, you gain insights into how they are being used and how much power is being dawn, information which can be used to regulate the flow of power, so the grid isn’t overloaded. Overall, IoT allows us to manage the increasing demand for EVs while also keeping the grid stable.
Without reliable connectivity, sensors at charging points will not be able to communicate with the network, which means EV drivers will be left frustrated and the CPO’s credibility will be damaged. Basically, for IoT devices to function, there needs to be network availability and a stable, always-on connection. Cellular technology is the preferred choice, due to its presence in places where EV charging points would likely be installed, such as schools, parking lots, hospitals, office parking garages, etc. Downtime or poor connectivity can cost brands both revenue and reputation.
IoT-enabled EV stations must do more than facilitate smooth energy exchange between EVs and the grid, or even information between customers and the charging point. Security must also be considered, because as the number of EVs grow and the EV ecosystem expands, the attack surface is also growing. Look at it this way: if a hacker is able to disable all EV chargers connected to the same network, it would be the equivalent to a gas shortage. Security is also crucial for the privacy of customers, such as their banking details. The advantage of cellular IoT connectivity is its built-in security measures that protect data and sensitive information, offering reliable and secure coverage, no matter the location.