IBM has announced a project aimed at simplifying electric vehicle (EV) charging and payment for consumers, wherever they are. The operational demonstration, called the B2B Marketplace, will allow energy providers, car manufacturers and charging point owners to share and integrate services on one common IT platform.
The idea is to create a network of EV charging services that are compatible across Europe, allowing drivers to charge their vehicle and pay in any location across borders and geographies, regardless of their energy provider – an approach similar to international roaming for mobile phones. It is hoped that the capability will help increase electric vehicle adoption in the region. By allowing cross network communication between multiple charging stations and various utility companies, EV drivers can travel without the worry of being too far from an allocated charge post or one supported by their provider. Utilities will also benefit, as the IT platform provides interoperable standards and payment support, reducing potential management issues with financial settlement and international conversion.
The platform is based on IBM software and IBM SmartCloud Enterprise. It’s an open-standards environment that enables manufacturers and service providers to link their various services. Using analytic software, participants will also be in a better position to develop new services to support more electric vehicles as the market grows.
The initiative is part of the Green eMotion project, funded by the European Union, with the goal to establish a Europe-wide infrastructure for electric vehicles by 2015. This, in turn, is part of the European Recovery Plan to reduce C02 emissions by 60% by 2050. Green eMotion partners, including Enel, SAP and Siemens, developed the required EV services.
"This marketplace will pave the way for the electromobility mass market in Europe. It allows for open access to charging spots throughout Europe thus making the journey with an e-car simple and convenient," said Dr. Heike Barlag, Siemens AG, Project Coordinator Green eMotion.
Review: At the moment it looks like the EV market in Europe needs all the help it can get as the market growth has been even smaller than they expected.
But according to an article in the Financial Times in the summer, while the initial fears were that the electric car market might fail because of the lack of places to plug them in, most consumers are rejecting them because they cost too much for the level of performance and comfort levels.
So while this project will no doubt help EV take-up in the long run, it’s not likely to provide significant market impetus now. As I recall, the mobile phone market was already growing very rapidly before international roaming was widely available.