Electric Vehicles: Opportunity or Curse for Utilities?
I just read the IDC Info Snapshot that was sponsored by SAP, it is about the Electric Vehicle, or in short EV, customer and the impacts it can have when Utilities start focusing on them. Really an interesting read, you can download it here: SAP.com
In this blog post I would like to share my own experiences as I am a EV owner myself for close to two years now. Working in the Utilities industry gave me a head start in terms of technical aspects and my own requirements around a personal wall box. So, I knew what I wanted, but I was curious to see what support Utilities would offer me for my endeavor.
What I did first: I started looking at my local Utility retailer website. I know that I should have had a look at the grid company too, but I pretended to not know who would oversee the technical infrastructure. And: I wanted to check what offerings were available from the (part) of the company that is supplying me currently with energy.
I could find information around eMobility, but at that time it was more focused on the EV’s that Utility had in their fleet and more general information. I was disappointed as I was looking for a local partner that would help me with the installation and activation. When I was starting to write this blog, I did a check and looked at their website again. And now they are offering a complete package: from consultancy about the right solution for the home, check of the existing electrical infrastructure, installation via certified partners and notice to the responsible distributor. I must say I am positively surprised and might investigate that myself, but more on that later.
Two years back, when I was doing my discovery and research everything was clustered, I had to look at my local distributor and on their website the information was available in technical documents. I must say that I think I do have a certain level of knowledge in the energy space, but that was beyond my expertise. I called them and had a chat with a very nice person about my plans and he was able to send me some additional information via e-mail. That was saving it in terms of Customer Experience.
I learned that for new installations like the one I had in mind, in Germany, there would be the need for a new meter and a technique like Demand Response would come into play as well. So far so good.
After numerous tries to find an electrician, I had success and found one that had the right knowledge and was available. The latter was the biggest problem as, for whatever reason (maybe due to the pandemic), people had a lot of requests for electrical installations and/or repairs at that time.
The electrician came over and was one of the few that had done such an installation before and were in close contact with the local distributor, I was happy and accepted the quote. Yes, it was more expensive than I thought, especially as there was the need to install a second meter.
The date of the installation came closer and my phone rang: it was the electrician that cancelled my order. Why? The reason at that time was that the distributor gave the approved companies strict guidelines to follow. Those were so detailed that the companies felt “overruled” and started to revolt. I was just collateral damage. What to do? The new Electric Vehicle was about to be delivered and here I was with no personal charging spot.
Time was flying and I could not get the installation to be done, but I had figured out that there was a public charging station 300 meters away from my home. Not what I had in mind, but that should serve me as my temporary workaround. I was afraid what the new future of electric vehicles would bring, after this disastrous start.
So, I got my new car and got used to this new driving experience that I like a lot. When the cars battery became empty it was time to charge, on the road this was straightforward, but I was afraid of the experience at my home.
As with most things in life you learn while you are doing stuff and the charging on the public spot was so easy and just a minute walk away (and of course don’t have to charge daily) that I got stuck on that method.
Was my Customer Experience good? No, for sure not. I expected that I have one party that would help me manage all those individual steps and organize them in the required order. I would have been more than happy to pay a premium for that.
My situation is unchanged, although I accommodated to the status quo. But I while writing these lines I learned that, at least, some of the Utilities have evolved their portfolio into a kind of “full-service provider”. I am very excited and might go that route, if so, I will for sure share if the Experience is better than before.