Last year the market welcomed many new models of electric cars and this year will be no different. That’s fantastic news, of course, but for a Charge Point Operator (CPO) like Allego, every new model carries the potential of malfunctions during charging. Ensuring carefree charging for all those new models takes a lot of effort, sometimes to the detriment of EV drivers. This article explains some of the issues and solutions.
Standard protocols aren’t always standard
In the world of electric vehicles (EV), the vehicle and the charger communicate by means of standard protocols. These protocols ensure that both sides speak the same language. On paper, every electric car is able to ‘talk’ to every charger. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case in the real world. For example, it often happens that communication follows the protocols but there are differences in interpretation. It’s similar to how two nations may speak the same language but each one has its own dialect. A charger will consider the protocol non-standard in such situations, and that almost always leads to a malfunction. Sometimes the problem can be solved remotely, but it often cannot. And that’s very annoying for someone who arrives at a charging point with an empty battery.
If the problem can’t be solved immediately, the CPO will work with the vehicle and charger manufacturers to find a solution. But this can take a while – months, even. And throughout that time, charging that specific model will be less than ideal. While it’s possible to update charge point software remotely in many cases, that’s not always the case with software updates for vehicles.
Testing new EV-models
To track and solve any charging problems in advance, Allego tests new models on its various chargers in its own lab. This is usually done before the models are released. This way, a considerable number of malfunctions have been prevented. Sometimes, however, it is not possible to test a new model in advance, especially when several are launched at the same time or if a particular model is unavailable for testing. In that case, malfunctions can only be found when EV drivers report them. We then work with the car manufacturer to examine and solve the problem as quickly as possible.
Open network for all models
Unlike the charging network of Tesla, for example, Allego’s network is open and compatible with all electric vehicles. This means that many different makes and models have to be supported. And each make and model has its own hardware and software. Unfortunately, some of these new models do not communicate perfectly with the chargers.
“These are challenges that we’re eager to address together with our own staff, the car manufacturers and with you,” says Joost Groeneveld, operations manager at Allego. “Because as an EV driver, you are also an important source of information for us. So we’d like to ask you to report any problems you encounter on our Smoov App. Find the charging point where you are trying to charge your vehicle and share your findings by pressing the ‘Feedback’ button at the bottom of the screen. That will help us collect useful information so that we can solve problems without delay.”