‘EV Assist’ is a leading edge collaboration between Transport for West Midlands and developers of the multi award winning Travel Assistant platform, ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ (YST). It aims to incentivise the use of electric vehicles (EVs), accelerating the UK’s journey towards achieving a carbon neutral economy.
The EV Assist project team are assessing the technical feasibility and commercial potential of delivering a new information tool able to generate highly personalised journey itineraries for electric vehicle users, based around charge point availability and the individual’s reason for travel. In parallel, journey requirements captured by the solution will be securely shared with charge point operators, allowing them to offer customer-tailored incentives to use their service.
Every combustion engine car that is replaced with an electric vehicle contributes a CO2 saving of around 133.1g/km. Shared ownership and rental models further increase the CO2 benefits of the shift to EVs. Lower running costs, less maintenance, a lower carbon footprint and cleaner air all add up to significant social, economic, and environmental benefits. But the electric vehicle industry is struggling to achieve the necessary customer adoption to realise these benefits.
‘Range anxiety’ sits at the route of the electric vehicle paradox. The quicker car owners switch to using electric vehicles the quicker the transport network we become carbon neutral, but take-up is slow as people worry about adequate charging infrastructure and charging time. In turn industry revenues simply don’t support the accelerated roll-out of charging infrastructure. Catch 22!
A perceived lack of access to charge points discourages people from ditching their traditional combustion engine vehicles, with an established fuel supply chain, to using electric vehicles. Whilst this could be overcome with additional investment in charge-point infrastructure, currently, charge point operators have no means of capturing and managing demand. Unlocking this demand is the key to calculating return on investment, and coherent and reliable business models for the whole of the electric vehicle supply chain.
In an effort to accelerate the roadmap to becoming carbon neutral, the UK Government is picking up part of the bill, offering tax incentives, congestion and clean air zone concessions to EV driver to incentivise adoption. This is costly and unsustainable.
EV Assist is funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and delivered through Innovate UK under the Catalysing Green Innovation competition Strand 2: Securing the future of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV). It addresses the electric vehicle and charge point supply and demand challenge by examining real-time information exchanges between electric vehicle owners and charge point infrastructure operators, in respect of near-term charging requirements and critically, the availability of charging infrastructure at any given time.
The EV Assist research programme includes engagement with electric vehicle users, vehicle manufacturers, retailers, rental companies and charge point vendors and operators. It will initially focus on: how can information be most efficiently captured and shared; how to incentivise EV-users to share their travel requirements with operators; how operators can most effectively exploit EV Assist travel demand forecasts, and; calculating the impact EV Assist can have on the UK government’s “Road to Zero” strategy, which aims to lead the world in zero emission vehicle technology.
Transport for West Midlands’ established research and development partnership with YST previously led to the launch of the Travel Assistant service, a forerunner to EV Assist which is now gaining rapid adoption by transport, destination and venue operators to manage socially distanced visitor journeys to events. The project team plan to build on this, citing potential trials of EV Assist in the West Midlands from mid 2021.
“The successful realisation of EV Assist could improve the overall customer experience of travelling by electric vehicle, directly addressing range anxiety, and helping operators extract maximum value from their charging assets by optimising utilisation per customer.”, explains Andy Page, Future Transport Lead at Transport for West Midlands.
In combination, these outcomes of EV Assist would make a significant contribution to supporting the UK’s transition to electric vehicles over the next decade, building towards and helping to sustain a carbon neutral economy.
- To find out more about Transport for West Midlands visit https://www.tfwm.org.uk
- For ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ go to https://yousmartthing.com
- For the UK Governments’ ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’ programme visit: https://ktn-uk.org/electronics/der-iscf-challenge/