The journey by electric car #4

Natalia Reen works as part of the EU-funded bIoTope project, running various Internet of Things trials and pilots in Kalasatama.

Writer: Natalia Reen

It would be fair to say couple of words about the car and the car services. I like the car a lot – it was the fastest accelerating car I have driven (I have not tried Tesla :-)), it behaves very good and it is reliable on a slippery road. The car considered me smarter than I am and tried to talk to me something all the time.

Dashboards of the car include service for searching of available charging stations.

The first question – what does it mean ”available”? I could not find any useful status of the station. Though it does not make much sense to see the status in terms of occupancy. You really want to know, how long it will be occupied. Even for fast charging you cannot have precise estimations. For slow charging it might make sense to implement reservation system based on hourly/half an hour booking.

With the fast charging the driver should prepare to spend time there from 10 to 30 min in average during one long trip. Though it sounds a bit abstract, the example from an active driver of EV is Estonia: During my regular trip from Tallinn to Pärnu (130 km) in winter time I made one stop to charge ( with fast charging) and I had a coffee break for about 20 minutes.

When you press the button for ”charging availability service” the car connects to the information system. The purpose of this is to find the nearest available charging stations. If you are driving, the list is not updated automatically based on your changing location, so you need to press this button again repeatedly. I have many questions about this information system.

The main question is what kind of data source is used from this particular car model? And why I haven’t found main charging service providers in the list, such as Virta or Fortum. It might be so that the provider names are ”hidden” behind the parking slot owners (shops, gas stations, car shops, parking companies).

However, all places that I have checked were free of charge, so not like Virta’s paid service. It might be also that free of charge services has higher priority due to humanism of Ekorent or car manufacturer. The car dashboard shows only the places that can be used by everybody without subscription or membership.

The strange thing is that near the Ekorent plug where I should return the car and plug it in – at Ruoholahti shopping centre – dashboard service did not show this place. Moreover, Ekorent guys asked me to unplug and take it with the charging cable that no other cars could use it for charging. All these above does not sound like we have performed serious steps toward the creation of an ecosystem for EVs.

In summary about the three days of driving:
We don’t have enough fast charging stations. Without building a good network of fast charging nobody can feel safe to use electric cars

We should improve existing services for charging availabilities in the following ways:
1 ) to implement better use cases for slow and fast charging.  2) Fast charging is the use case for traveling, slow charging is for long period parking and maybe for emergency and hopelessness.
3) slow charging should have reservation system, fast charging should have availability status

the only way to integrate big service providers to the car dashboard service is to ensure their interoperability and 100% availability for the car drivers. It is useful to know about all possible charging stations, for example, through’s service.

You can find some additional options like vendor specific or private and residential. But the car dashboard should have 100% reliability and availability and the big question is how to achieve it with big charging service suppliers.

If cross-providers roaming is not going to be implemented then it should be achieved through, for example, integration of connected car ecosystems and EV’s propriety platforms (which is technically difficult and probably expensive case).

– The most important information right now for the driver is not where the stations are but when I can actually start charging.

Though I was very happy to drive EV, I really enjoyed it, and probably could get used to it and overcome the obstacles, I will not buy electric vehicle now unless I will get a grant (like some in Estonia) or unless I want more headaches

Read previous chapters of the journey:

The journey by electric car #1
The journey by electric car #2
The journey by electric car #3

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