As OEMs and riders and drivers make the shift to electric vehicles, several pain points still exist in 2021. While range, battery capacity, and infrastructure continue to get better, there’s still definitely room for improvement—especially when talking about motorcycles. However, there’s another charging-related issue that’s a bit sticky that I want to talk about today.
By the very nature of electric vehicles, a lot of charging will be done by owners at home, likely overnight. That will mean different things if you have a home charger setup that you own, which will basically make it like plugging in your phone or any other small electronic devices you regularly use. However, if you live in an apartment building, that may mean street, garage, or some other type of charging that may also involve individual payments per charging session.
Setting aside the necessity of better infrastructure to help EV owners charge their vehicles while they’re out and about, forms of payment seem to be a tricky issue. As you’d expect, plenty of different players exist in the EV charging station space, and all are eager to compete for your hard-earned money. While the players may vary by geographic region, the same basic song remains the same.
Now, with combustion engines, there have long been plenty of operators competing with one another. The difference there is that you can generally pay with your credit or debit card at the pump (or with the cashier). You don’t need a separate card or account for each fuel station operator whose locations you happen to visit. You also don’t need to lock yourself into only using Shell stations, or Chevron, or any other provider. One card enables payment at all of them.
Generally speaking, contactless payment methods (including things like Apple Pay and Google Pay) are more secure, and less open to credit card skimming or other nefarious methods of stealing your payment info. Since EV charging stations are relatively new developments, why wouldn’t network operators want to take this chance to improve payment security at the same time?
The part where it gets sticky is when you start to get into digital walled garden situations. You know, where you can only pay via an individual charging network’s app, or via a special card that’s only used by one particular charging network.
If you have an established routine, where you know roughly when you’ll be using the exact same charging station every week, that’s one thing. What if you want to take a long trip, and charging stations on other networks will be more convenient for you to use, though? How many apps (and their necessary accounts, and logins) and/or charging network payment cards do you want to have to worry about? This issue will obviously vary based on geographic region, but it’s worth considering.
I’m not sure what the best solution would be, but it’s probably something we need to address before it gets out of hand. As just one example, Le Repaire des Motards recently noted six different charging passes, some of which only operate in its home country of France, and some of which also operate elsewhere in Europe. Even if they’re digital, that’s quite a bit of extra effort to expend just to top up your motorbike or car.
There has to be a way that EV users can securely pay for charging without having to worry about a multitude of charging passes and/or apps. Why on earth would anyone want to make switching to electric vehicles more difficult, when we’re all witnessing the effects of climate change in real time?