‘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 at YST is continuously assessing the technical feasibility of integrating new charge point operators, alongside the commercial potential of its travel assistant platform delivering highly personalised journey itineraries for electric vehicle users, based around charge point availability and the individual’s reason for travel. The journey requirements we capture by the solution can 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, charge point operators have limited 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 drivers to incentivise adoption. This is costly and unsustainable.
EV Assist was initially 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 programme includes engagement with electric vehicle users, vehicle manufacturers, retailers, rental companies and charge point vendors and operators. It focuses on leveraging YST’s travel assistant platform to: incentivise EV-users to share their travel requirements with operators; enable operators to effectively exploit EV Assist travel demand forecasts, and; calculate the impact this can have on the UK government’s “Road to Zero” strategy, which aims to lead the world in zero-emission vehicle technology.
In this 2m mid-project update from the initial EV Assist feasibility study ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ CEO, Chris Thompson gave an informative overview.
Transport for West Midlands’ established research and development partnership with YST previously led to the launch of the travel assistant platform, which underpins EV Assist and is now gaining rapid adoption by transport, destination and venue operators to manage visitors’ trips to events. The project team is building 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 traveling 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, the outcomes of EV Assist can 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/