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EV charging means more than plugging in (even if drivers don’t know it)

Data-rich analytics and machine learning aren’t terms typically associated with fueling up a vehicle, but for those driving EVs today, that’s exactly what is driving their public charging station experience.

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Jordan Ramer, CEO and founder of EV Connect

Today’s smart charging software is not only improving the driving/charging experience for the consumer, but it’s also improving visibility and uptime for those managing those charging stations. That’s according to Jordan Ramer, CEO and founder of EV Connect, provider of EV charging solutions for commercial, enterprise, hospitality, healthcare, educational and government facilities.

Ramer recently sat down with The Buzz to discuss what today’s smart charging software might mean for tomorrow’s EV driver.

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How can consumers benefit from their vehicle engaging with smart EV charging infrastructure?

Smart EV charging is the transportation infrastructure of the future. The consumer experience takes place at the charging station (hardware) and is the most visible aspect of EV charging. The majority of the electric vehicle charging ecosystem that makes the at-the-pump experience great is all about software and the data services, which are largely unseen by drivers.

Ask any EV driver whose range anxiety boils over when her charging app – and the last few electrons in her battery – get her to a charging station that: is in use for the next two hours; is out of service; is not in her charging network, does not fast-charge that day or is ICE’ed. (charger slang for when an internal combustion engine (ICE) car squats in an EV charging spot.)

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Big data, rich analytics, data compatibility, machine learning, and connectivity are central to improved EV driver happiness; today and in the long run. Software is the backbone for driver happiness and a critical aspect in EV adoption worldwide.

What do you believe will be the biggest advancement in charging and/or charging stations made in the next five to 10 years?

The biggest advancement in EV charging in the next decade will be the disappearance of the novelty of EV charging altogether. This is more of a social and psychological process (or evolution) through which plugging in and charging an EV will take on the normalness of connecting to Wi-Fi–it will simply become part of life. This is probably the most succinct answer, since the mountain of technology, connectivity, analytics, networked systems, compatibility and so-on that will be required “under the hood” is the stuff of engineering school textbooks. The industry must be on this path; EV Connect certainly is.

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EV Connect says “virtually any location frequented by vehicles can now become a provider of electricity as a fuel.” What do you mean by that, and what does this mean for the future of electrification?

Unlike gas stations, EV charging can be incorporated virtually anywhere in the city. City planners can choose to include charging stations in places like bus or rail station parking lots, i.e., charge-and-ride, municipal parking garages, solar carports or overhangs, public parking garages, fleet depots, and unique locations in cities such as the DMV, city hall, parks, libraries, community centers, courthouses, publicly owned parking structures, city-owned companies and other infrastructure on city-owned land, and more.

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The private sector can also incorporate or partner on EV charging. Adding charging infrastructure can drive business at retail, hotel, workplace, multi-family and many other locations as drivers charge. Electric vehicle charging will pave the way for companies to ramp up, visitors to increase and prepare us for the inevitable electric vehicle adoption that awaits us. The greater the presence of electric charging stations and electric vehicles, the faster we can reduce CO2 emissions, bring cleaner air into our cities, and downstream climate change effects.

What do you believe is one of the most difficult parts of managing charging stations today and is there a solution to improve that experience?

A general learning curve. The people who manage businesses, apartment complexes and company parking lots are not typically EV charging experts, yet they are the ones who face the challenge of being responsible for managing complex choices around hardware and software, network integrations, physical installations, and long-term management and maintenance of their charging stations.

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The many bits of information moving in the background must do so smartly and quickly. Consider a dining experience during peak hours; the back of the house can be frenetic, but the front of the house should be an easy and delightful experience for guests. EV Charging needs to be implemented similarly. Through real-time performance data and station alerts, station owners and network operators must have a resource that empowers them with charge station performance visibility to deliver leading uptime. At EV Connect, we provide customers with a Charging Network Operation Center (C-NOC) to do just that.

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