In the age of electric vehicles, the challenge of getting from point A to point B is still very current. More complete geolocation solutions are needed to help electric car businesses develop better customer services and generate new opportunities. Kevin DELVINO, Head of Sales - North & Central Europe at Woosmap, shares his take on geolocation for the electric vehicle sector.

What is the state of the electric car business in Europe? And what role does the geolocation market play in the EV transition?

Europe is currently the world’s second-largest EV market, just behind China. In 2021, 2.3 million EVs were sold in Europe, accounting for 34% of all EVs sold globally (ICCT). Last year, EV already accounted for almost 20% of new car registrations (European Environment agency). Both customer spending and government incentives for decarbonisation policies are supporting this sustained growth of the EV sector in Europe.


The switch to electric and hybrid cars is a significant cause of disruption for the geolocation landscape. Because it brings new challenges, with the crucial need for more reliable data on the location of electric vehicles' charge points. It also brings new opportunities for the electric vehicle sector to answer the needs of the market now and in the future


Those services address “range anxiety”: the fear of not being able to recharge your electric car at destination or even reach that destination on a single charge. Significant improvements with lithium-ion batteries have increased the range of the most recent EV models to more than 260 miles (418 km). But weather and road conditions, and manufacturing year can still reduce the effectiveness of cars batteries. Professional carriers also have classic journey optimisation needs, that must now take into account the charge time of cars and the cost of miles. That’s why geolocation services need more relevant data and real-time information (weather, traffic, events), to provide more accurate services and chargepoint solutions for customers.

Who are the providers of geolocation services for the electric car sector?

Traditionally, we can identify three categories of EV geolocation service providers. And Woosmap partners  with this ecosystem to provide the underlying technology, data flows and value analysis.

- First, the manufacturers and providers of electric charging points. Oil companies, electricity providers or independent startups operate those EV stations. As a consequence, the European EV charging market is very fragmented, both regionally and along its value chain, with hundreds of different providers.

- A second important category for electric vehicle businesses is aggregator websites and apps. They display information about EV charging stations and EV maintenance and servicing businesses.

- And a third key category is electric car manufacturers. They include geolocation services, range calculation and route planners in their EV navigation systems and apps.

Newcomers are also getting their teeth into the EV geolocation market with new offers. For instance, insurance companies understand that offering a geolocation service to EV car owners is both an excellent communication tool and a long-term customer loyalty strategy.

How do you see the EV geolocation services landscape evolving?

We are now seeing a race across the globe to aggregate data on electric vehicle charge points and EV services. Because governments and companies are building new infrastructures at an exponential rate. Cartography services need to keep up with this. 


The European market gives us a good estimate of this data aggregation challenge. As of November 2022, Woosmap Store Locator displays more than 600 000 EV charge points across Europe. Comparatively, simple EV geolocation aggregation services only display around 300 000. Tesla’s network alone accounts for 35 000 Global Superchargers points and a network of 35 000 Wall Connectors at Destination Charging Sites. Keeping up with the growth of this network is only the tip of the EV iceberg.


To source this data, Woosmap has partnered with Eco-Movement, the leading platform globally that aggregates, quality-improves and enriches data on all third-party accessible EV charging stations.

“We manage hundreds of connections that provide us live data in many different formats for thousands of different charging network brands. As an independent, specialised company we are uniquely placed to centrally gather and prepare data for great applications such as Woosmap’s” says Sjors Martens, Commercial Director at Eco-Movement

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What are the advantages of having a locator as an EV business? 


With Electric and hybrid Vehicles, the travelling salesman's problem of finding the shortest way to connect the dots on a journey is becoming an everyman and woman problem. But the drivers’ challenge is now to optimise driving time, total miles range and charging time


In fact, the driver’s journey to an EV charge point is one of the most compelling stories for location services. Businesses, from the EV sector and beyond, can build services around those route planning challenges. In this case, the granularity of data is particularly important. Because drivers need to know how fast they can charge their car, but also if a compatible charge point is available and reserve it. At least four distinct types of plugs are available at charging points: two for alternating current (AC – up to 43 kW) and two for direct current (DC, up to 350 kW). Planning a journey requires factoring in those charging parameters, as well as the road and weather conditions. That’s why Google introduced a “Fast charge” button in its November Google Maps update, to quickly filter out slow chargers.


What other types of businesses can build a strategy around chargepoints? 


Hotels, restaurants and shops also have interesting use cases for EV charging points. Because drivers will plan their routes to maximise their time while the car is charging. A two-hour charging stop can be perfect for a restaurant break or shopping time. For hotels and public entertainment venues, the availability of a charging station in their parking lot or nearby is also a great differentiator.

For instance, the French supermarket chain Carrefour is building charging stations next to all its stores. Between now and 2025, it will build 5000 charging stations to make mobility easier for its customers. Its “Carrefour Énergies” mobile application integrates an EV station locator. It also gives one hour of charging for free to loyalty card or Pass card holders.


How can a geolocator strategy improve user experience?


We need to talk about user experience throughout the buyer’s journey. Because an EV charge point locator brings value already at the “consideration stage” of the electric or hybrid car sales journey. Automakers and car dealers need to remove the doubts a prospective buyer would have before buying an electric car. Especially for people considering their first switch from a thermal car to an electric one. Doubts and questions like « Is an electric car adapted to my daily commute or future trips ? », and « Where would I charge when I go to work, go shopping or visit family?”. Because those doubts and the lack of information are frictions that slow down the buying process of customers.


For instance, the leading car manufacturer Renault was among the first to implement this idea of a “frictionless” sales tunnel for Electric Vehicles. In 2010, Renault created its own EV charge point locator, with Woosmap’s APIs. The company now offers a complete service, called Z.E.Pass, to simplify geolocation, use and payments at electric charging stations.


If we go back to the customer’s journey, everyday customers make micro-decisions about purchases and brands, based on distance and convenience. Decisions like going to a shop in person, getting delivery, or click & collect services. This means that locators are already embedded in the consumer’s journey, well beyond the EV charge point locator scenario. But when brands do not integrate those locator services into their customer experience, prospective buyers are forced to leave their website and the brand’s universe to check for this information elsewhere. That’s why EV locators are a great asset to reduce customer acquisition costs and “cart abandonment rates” (that reach almost 70% in e-commerce).

How does Woosmap bring value to the EV geolocation ecosystem?


Displaying aggregated information from hundreds of EV players in a single geolocation service is a complex task. It takes cartography skills but also technological expertise. One of the challenges is to integrate those data through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces, used to open up a company’s applications' data and functionality to external third-party). And consumers expect that those geolocation services remain fast, even when thousands or millions of people use them simultaneously.

Woosmap already serves the geolocation needs of more than 600 companies worldwide, including the EV sector, with 8 Billion data queries per year. Woosmap’s API can display more than 100 000 search points with a standard response time of 100 milliseconds


Since 2009, Woosmap offers a unique combination of privacy-first geolocation APIs and SDKs, based on our own data sourcing, without collecting any personal data. Our cloud-based location solution is designed to help developers manage location data services and optimise geolocation usage for websites and mobile applications. Woosmap is our own proprietary platform. With a set of independent APIs dedicated to B2B2C business use cases. Such as store locators, distance calculation, geofencing, and data search. Beyond those tools, we also accompany businesses to take advantage of geolocation in their company strategy.


EV charge point locators can benefit from our expertise in the automotive industry and transport industry. Including car manufacturers like Peugeot, Renault, Hyundai, Kia, Opel, Land Rover, Stellantis and Jaguar; motorcycle manufacturers like Kawasaki; vehicle repair and maintenance centre chains, like Norauto and Carglass.


We also work with retail, e-commerce and pure players (creating last-mile delivery experiences), food and travel, as well as fintech and insurance. So we already manage and integrate Point Of Interest data relevant to the EV market, from the car dealership to the charge point on the road and the restaurant next door.

  

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