How to keep up with the "fury" of new energy vehicles


Wang Jinyu


At present, the number of new energy vehicles in China has reached 13.1 million, and the market still maintains a rapid growth rate. With the "soaring" of vehicle production and sales, the charging infrastructure has also developed rapidly. By the end of 2022, the number of DC fast charging piles in China reached 761,000 units, and the proportion of fast charging increased to 43.5%, an increase of 2.5 percentage points over 2021. As one of the key factors related to the promotion of new energy vehicles, the development of the charging market is also touching.

On March 7, the China Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Promotion Alliance (hereinafter referred to as the "Charging Alliance") and Energy Chain Zhidian jointly released the "2022 China Electric Vehicle User Charging Behavior White Paper" (hereinafter referred to as the "White Paper"), which studies the characteristics and changing trends of charging behavior of electric vehicle users in China, and discusses how the charging industry can better provide services and keep up with the pace of new energy vehicles.

Build a diversified charging service system

According to the white paper, since most users are sensitive to charging time, 96% of users prefer fast charging piles, and the demand for fast charging in commercial vehicles is higher. At the same time, 72% of users tend to choose high-power charging piles of 120kW and above; Among them, the user selection rate of supercharging piles of 180kW and above exceeded 18%, an increase of 7% compared with last year, and users' demand for overcharging gradually increased. In addition, users prefer free parking fees (including free for a limited time, free and partially reduced), low traffic pressure at the station, and charging stations with supporting facilities.

Tong Zongqi, deputy secretary-general of the Charging and Swapping Branch of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers and deputy secretary-general of the Charging Alliance, believes that the demand for more power charging is gradually increasing, but with the marketization of overcharging, battery replacement and other faster vehicle energy supply solutions, the diversified development of charging and swapping services is inevitable. "Charging and swapping service is different from traditional fuel supply, charging piles can be installed in any corner, according to different use scenarios, different charging and swapping methods correspond to different market demand, and China's vast land area, charging services and natural decentralized characteristics, the future charging and swapping services will present a public fast charging-based, community supplemented, super fast charging, power exchange and other organic combination of the situation, forming a node network, it is unlikely that one way to monopolize the market." He said.

According to the survey results of the white paper, more than 87% of users have cross-operator charging behavior, an average of 6 operators, of which more than 10 operators account for more than 19%, an increase of about 7% over last year, and different types of users can cross more than 40 operators at most, and the service radius of a single operator can no longer meet the charging needs of users, realize interconnection between operators, and develop a centralized operation platform, which will help improve the convenience of user charging and improve the overall charging experience of users. At the same time, more than 93% of users have cross-station charging behavior, with an average of 15 cross-stations, and more than 40 charging station users account for more than 9%, an increase of 4% over last year; The proportion of cross-station users of private cars is the lowest, but there is still a year-on-year increase of 53%. 23% of users have cross-city charging behavior, an increase of 10 percentage points from 12.3% last year. With the gradual improvement of vehicle driving capacity and the improvement of charging infrastructure, users' demand for cross-city charging is increasing.

The White Paper proposes that charging operators and third-party charging service platforms should enrich the charging service ecology, implement the user-first concept, promote online and offline service innovation and business model innovation, and help improve user charging experience and sustainable development of the industry; At the same time, we should actively promote carbon inclusion, establish user carbon accounts, design reasonable reward mechanisms, encourage users to participate in carbon emission reduction actions, popularize low-carbon travel, and build a good environment for the development of the industry.

Expand the market supply of high-quality stations

According to the white paper, more than half of the users are satisfied with electricity consumption, among which the highest satisfaction with the clear and accurate display of App information. 67.9% of users are satisfied with charging safety and stability, indicating that with the advancement of the process of information interconnection of charging infrastructure, user experience is steadily improving; nearly 63% of users recognize the soundness of the charging network construction of the station, 57% of users are satisfied with the management of the charging station, and only 58% of users are satisfied with the rationality of charging fees (and service fees). In view of this, how to provide high-quality charging services and experiences when the charging cost is reasonable requires active improvement of the operation platform and operators.

Specifically, about 71.19% of users were satisfied with the clear and accurate display of charging App information, a slight decrease from 71.6% last year, and 7.37% were dissatisfied, an increase from 5.6% last year. The reasons for the user's dissatisfaction with this are mainly concentrated in the coverage of charging stations and charging piles, insufficient coverage of charging piles, and indetailed information of the stations. 67.9% of users are satisfied with charging safety and stability, an increase from 64.8% last year, but 9.35% of users are still dissatisfied, the problem is mainly concentrated in the lack of fire safety equipment around the station, and the voltage and current instability in the middle of charging.

In addition, 63.06% of users were satisfied with the perfection of charging network construction, a great improvement from 54.6% last year, but 11.46% of users were still dissatisfied, and the problems mainly focused on three aspects: low coverage of the charging network, insufficient number of high-quality charging facilities, and the service radius of the charging network did not meet the demand. For the management of the charging station, 56.54% of users expressed satisfaction, basically the same as last year, and 16.37% of users were dissatisfied, and the problems were mainly concentrated in four aspects: fuel vehicles occupying charging spaces, lack of maintenance of equipment, unattended station, and slow fault feedback response. 57.87% of users were satisfied with the reasonableness of charging fees (and service fees), while 16.1% were dissatisfied, and the problems were mainly concentrated in three aspects: high charging fees, high service fees, and indetailed descriptions of preferential activities.

Yu Xiang, vice president of Nenglian Zhidian, said in an interview with reporters that there are currently more than 3,000 large and small charging service providers in China, which have their own platforms, but due to the uneven strength of enterprises, the service capabilities presented are also very different. "Building a charging app seems simple, but it is not easy to truly meet the needs of users, requiring enterprises not only to understand charging needs, but also to have the ability to find and solve problems." He emphasized that charging service providers must do a good job in products and services in order to fundamentally improve user satisfaction.

The "White Paper" proposes to strengthen the capacity building of public charging network operation, operation and maintenance, promote charging station level service certification, and improve the service quality of public charging network. Tong Zongqi said that based on the entry of more and more new charging operators in the future, it is necessary to formulate standardized charging pile construction and operation standards, cultivate and incubate professional third-party service providers, and help the high-standard construction of charging stations, so as to expand the market supply of high-quality stations; Do a good job in the interconnection of static, dynamic, and charging service data of cross-regional, cross-platform, and cross-station charging infrastructure, meet the needs of users' diversified travel scenarios, and improve the convenience of charging infrastructure; Strengthen the capacity building of vehicle pile safety monitoring and intelligent operation and maintenance of charging stations, revitalize the existing idle charging piles, improve the response timeliness of operation and maintenance, and improve the utilization rate of charging stations; Formulate the charging station service system from multiple dimensions such as station hardware and software, promote the star evaluation and certification of charging stations, and help the high-quality development of the industry.

Highway charging can't be done on the B-side alone

It is also understood that the "White Paper" charging satisfaction survey has added the highway charging scene for the first time, but it has the worst performance in various satisfaction surveys. For highway charging, 50.2% of users are satisfied, 26.39% of users are dissatisfied, the feedback mainly focuses on the number of charging piles, the number of fast charging piles, charging prices, charging pile locations, etc., 70.53% of users think that the charging queue time in the high-speed service area is too long, 46.98% of users think that the charging power is small, the fast charging pile is less, and 33.29% of users think that the charging cost is too high. In addition, the lack of personal preference charging operators in the service area, the damage of charging piles, lack of maintenance, the dirty environment of charging spaces, and the lack of supporting facilities are also urgent problems for highway charging infrastructure.

Tong Zongqi pointed out that the demand for highway charging often breaks out during holidays, in order to improve the charging satisfaction of this scene, on the one hand, we should increase station construction, update and upgrade equipment, and enhance fast charging service capabilities; On the other hand, users also need to do a good job of travel planning, and plan charging as an important matter for long-distance travel to meet charging needs and avoid congestion. "Generally, there will be public service stations at the entrances and exits of expressways and around the city, and users can use these stations to charge and replace electricity, make reasonable planning, and avoid the problem of highway charging congestion on holidays." In Tong Zongqi's view, to meet the long-distance charging needs of electric vehicle users, it is necessary to change thinking and cultivate good charging planning habits, in order to fundamentally alleviate the problem of highway charging concentration and congestion, it is unrealistic to simply increase the charging capacity of highway stations.


Originally published on China Automotive News on March 14, 2023