<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1416740815854077&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

4 min read

EV Charging & That Nagging Payment Problem

EV Charging & That Nagging Payment Problem

In every discussion about public charging stations, we often hear the same question from EV drivers: Why isn’t there one app to start all charging stations? To answer that question, one must consider several points of view (POV): charging station ownership, the network provider, and the end user. 


POV: Charging Station Ownership

If you drive a traditional gasoline vehicle, you can’t collect gas points from every gas station you visit – whether that’s Shell, Chevron, or Esso.  The model doesn’t work as the goal of each fuel supplier is to retain their own customers, which is why drivers have to subscribe to each brand’s loyalty program. If you think of EV charging stations in the same way, this could be a valid argument to explain why so many different mobile apps and RFID cards exist – because they act as loyalty cards. 

Most people do not know this, however, most network providers have a QR code on their charging stations which allow the driver to enter their credit card information and pay for the charging session through their phone’s web browser and not through a proprietary app. The burden, of course, in this case is reaching for your wallet and re-entering those pesky credit card details. Since humans love convenience, it’s easy to see why this is still a pain point for EV drivers, especially if you don’t have the best phone service in that area.

Arguably, it would be best to equip all charging stations with credit card readers –functioning then like the traditional gas pump experience—and that is true for most Direct Current Fast Chargers (Level 3). However, adding a credit card reader to a level 2 charging is simply too expensive in any business case. The transaction fees alone for a $4 session over 2 hours simply isn’t worth the trouble nor the additional $1000 -$2000 cost for the card reader effectively doubling the price of each level 2 unit.  


POV: Network Providers 

​​​ ​For the longest time, multiple apps and RFID cards have been the main issues in Europe and North America. The EU is slowly resolving the issue, allowing drivers to activate the vast majority of charging ports from various network providers. ​This is why a project like Agora is needed to build strong industry support for a better payment experience through EV roaming, moving the industry toward the goal of offering Canadians the choice to use their preferred mode of payment which in turn lends itself to increased EV adoption. This is why NRCan is supporting such an endeavour with the endorsement of industry players such as ChargeHub, Vinfast, Nissan, Electric Circuit, BC Hydro, ATCO, EV Society, CAA and many more​. ​​

​​​Instead of having to spend $100+ dollars adding $10 to 10 different apps as a minimum funding requirement, Leading Ahead Energy urges the industry to pivot quickly and offer easy payment options with the highest charging network compatibility for drivers whether it’s from their preferred application, RFID card or directly from the infotainment system of their vehicle.​​ 

What is roaming and how does it relate to EVs?  

Roaming is essentially a network provider allowing other providers to show third party EV charging stations on their network to increase their presence on the market. This was a business strategy to get market advantage currently being used by a few companies to increase the appearance of market share benefiting private interest over the EV industry and the end user (EV driver).   There are ​​two main approaches that can be taken to implement EV Roaming: a Peer-to-Peer and Hub approach or Peer-to-Peer and Hub-based.​

​​​Peer-to-Peer ​​ 

​​​It is possible for an eMSP (eMobility Service Provider) / CPO (Charge Point Operator) to choose one or more charging networks to link their operations. Integrating other CPOs into an EMSP solution, or making their stations available on multiple EMSPs can be taxing for technical, legal and accounting teams as there are more than 100 charging networks in North America and countless OEMs and fleets that are looking to get the best public charging coverage for all EV drivers. Peer-to-Peer can also create favoritism and an unfair advantage by singling out targeted providers who could be perceived as a threat to other network companies as it is solely on a relationship based between private companies. ​​ 


​​​A hub approach reduces the compounding burden of building compatibility with new eMSPs and CPOs. It enables EV Roaming with one technical, commercial, accounting and legal integration. The result is substantial savings in terms of time and resources and streamlined access to all partners that are already integrated in the Hub. This method has already been proven and successfully implemented in Europe across hundreds of networks. ​​ 


POV: End User (EV Driver) 

If you’re not yet an EV driver, what are the three main barriers to EV adoption? 

  1. Access to charging stations (number, location & ease of use)  
  2. Maintenance on charging stations  
  3. Lack of charging stations to meet EV demand/appease range anxiety in future drivers 

The complicated process of transitioning to a first EV does take time to adjust and can be uncomfortable. The amount of first-time users asking for assistance at charging stations is quite staggering—and it’s not necessarily their fault as the learning curve is steep. New drivers are usually unaware of the multiple networks and mobile app combinations and easily become frustrated by the number of accounts they need to create and then add $10-$20 to each of them as a minimum balance requirement. We do not blame them. Between the multiple apps and the lack of charging infrastructure (especially DCFCs) and the often unpredictable reliability of charging stations, it’s easy to understand why some people bring their EVs back.  

Agora will not be solving all of the issues mentioned above, but it is a much-needed first step to ease the EV driver experience by ​supporting the use of a preferred payment and activation option on the maximum of compatible networks.​​ This is a great initiative made possible by Natural Resources Canada that will be highly valuable for the electric mobility industry and deserves our full support.  


Article written in collaboration with Maxime Charron, CEO of  LeadingAhead Energy.