EVs need paying and charging conformity, says Tarak Mehta

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 18 Sep 2019

The adoption of common charging and payment standards is a vital step towards the widespread take-up of EVs, according to one of the biggest makers of charging points. 

Swiss-based technology firm ABB supplies equipment to a number of charging networks worldwide, including Ionity, which recently opened its first 350kW rapid-charging station in the UK. 

Tarak Mehta, President of Electrification and member of the Group Executive Committee, ABB, said working towards common charging standards is “a role we take very seriously”. 

Mehta said that although he understands the reasons for car firms wanting to gain an edge with their own systems and infrastructure projects, this complicates the situation.

“With the nature of politics, the way the automotive OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] feel about themselves lends itself to not having too many common standards,” said Mehta. “The infrastructure is proportional to the [number of] standards, so one standard versus two has a substantial impact on the cost of infrastructure you need in any one geography. 

“On the commercial vehicle side, we see a far more collaborative evolution. On the automotive side, let’s put it this way: it’s a bit more challenging. The good news is that, so far, in any one geography, we’re down to one or two standards, and that’s probably good enough.” 

Although there has been a move towards a common charging plug design, EV owners still face the need to sign up with several companies in order to use a variety of charging points. 

“The biggest issue [on the payment side] is data,” said Mehta. “Convergence could happen very quickly if there was an agreed data-sharing model, because a lot of data that comes with EV charging has value. Getting that data shared is a bigger issue than getting credit cards working [across different accounts] and having it standardised might take some regulatory effort.”