The moment of truth for transportation electrification
Infrastructure and new business models
- "Fundamental points like how the infrastructure will work, what the business world will look like, current battery benchmarks, and how they will prove out are still unclear. These key issues will drive the industry."—Bonn participant
- "A year ago, I was looking for a fast-charge pilot. Now we’re rolling out an intelligent network of 30 fast chargers before year’s end. Suddenly, it’s charging as a service instead of looking for a plug."—Bonn participant
- "We can adopt [charging infrastructure] in phases and get the required technology to fix it."—Detroit participant
- "Government support is at first needed because a certain scale infrastructure is necessary for EV purchases. Without infrastructure, people won’t buy them. But when more EVs reach the market, the infrastructure business model needs to generate sufficient revenue and profit to make the infrastructure scale to the right scope to serve the whole city or country."—Beijing participant
Government and industry must work closely together to develop and adopt common standards, such as the EU automakers’ agreement on plug standardization and software specifications.
Business model innovation needed
Issues in US
Opinions varied widely in the infrastructure session, particularly about unconventional ownership, charging and services business models to spur growth.
But Europeans appeared more satisfied than their Chinese and North American peers about the moving parts coming together via creative partnerships between utilities, OEMs and integrators.
In Detroit, attendees underscored the need to fill gaps between who manages, owns and pays for the charging station.
Issues in China
And to accelerate EV deployment, Chinese participants focused largely on the powerful role of government and state-run utilities in infrastructure; broader international R&D collaboration; a better business case; and initiatives like showcasing successful model projects.
- New business models are key to pushing the industry forward: e.g., EV leasing; car sharing, mobility on demand; packaging car/battery/charging; monthly charging plans.
- First focus on roll-out of the charging network; perfect fee-for-service models later.
- Germany’s move away from nuclear to renewables will accelerate smart grid development and ultimately enable greater EV adoption.
- The flood of new charging and telematic data will be a catalyst for new technology applications / business opportunities.
- Infrastructure standards are needed to avoid technology fragmentation and silos.
- Charging infrastructure gaps are the main barriers to mass adoption.
- Security and high-cost of infrastructure are concerns.
- Creative incentive-based partnerships with utilities to justify infrastructure investment are urgently needed; utility value drivers will vary based on the local regulatory environment.
- Slow roll-out of EVs in the marketplace provides the opportunity to perfect infrastructure in tandem.
- Lack of a clear business case for infrastructure investment is a key barrier.
- Chicken/egg: consumers won’t buy EVs without public infrastructure; no business case for public infrastructure exists without EVs on the street.
- Grid charge flow volatility from EV charging is an issue given how stretched Chinese utilities are to meet demand—beneficial to battery swap model.
- Lack of infrastructure standardization is a key barrier.
- Government support, directives, standards-setting and investment are needed to drive infrastructure development in the absence of a business case.
- Deployment is largely dependent on local governments: moving at different speeds, with different strategies.
- Establish model cities for infrastructure deployment: create competition among mayors.
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