The electricity business worldwide is at the centre of changes brought about by new technologies and rapid merging of multiple business verticals. These changes are increasingly apparent in India as well. This transformation which involves substantial enhancements in renewable capacity, the push towards electric vehicles (EV), electrical charging stations, storage, new software-driven experiences and above all the changing face of the utility.
Filling it up vs charging
Most automobile companies have announced plans for EV’s and the market is expected to expand for these products. In the push towards electric vehicles, there is considerable excitement over the need for electric charging stations which will power these vehicles. There is much to be done since at present EV charging stations in India stand at just a few hundred. This space is likely to see considerable action in the coming years as the EV infrastructure will need charging sites for various uses. Offices, multiplexes, residential complexes are the possible places where these are expected to come up soon. It will change the current car fuelling paradigm where fuel is only available at petrol pumps. There will broadly be two kinds of charging, trip continuation charging and destination charging. Destination charging will be done at the end of a journey and will be at homes and offices and will utilise lower voltage AC charging to deliver energy into the vehicle. Trip continuation charging will be done at the service station and will involve fast charging. The more significant challenge though is behaviour change. How will consumers adapt to charging a car vs filling fuel?
The new grid and enhanced services
There are several implications for the grid with several thousand EV charging stations coming up. The foremost one being the increase in electricity demand with a new sector moving towards electrification. It could also put a strain on residential and commercial infrastructure and their service support systems. Multiple technological solutions are being worked upon to ensure grid reliability and stability. Also, newer organisations get a chance to embed themselves along the value chain – infrastructure, energy distribution and new service offerings are all possible.
Pay as you go / Subscription / Memberships / Bundling
While traditional oil and gas companies are setting up EV charging stations at the petrol pumps and continuing with the pay as you go, model, much more is now possible. Taking a cue from the telecom/entertainment world, subscription services and bundling offers might open up new avenues of transportation models. They could be in the form of tariffs, other energy services, or bundling with other vehicle services. Specialised EV charging companies could emerge with innovative models such as top-up cards, bundling home energy use and EV charging at stations, memberships to charging networks.
Implications for customer data
EV’s, unlike the combustion engine cars, are traditionally data-dense products. They will generate vast amounts of insight on how you drive, where you go, what music you listen to and more. As consumers use more such vehicles their data will reside with multiple EV producers, the electric company, charging service, music service and more. Privacy by design and consumer protection will need to be factored in. At one level, the product is updateable remotely, and companies have to think very differently about the way they manage their product features. The electric vehicle ecosystem promises much, but we can’t think about just taking the existing journeys and updating them.
We need fresh new thinking in creating these journeys to manage needs articulated and most importantly the unsaid needs..