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E-Mobility Fundamentals — eMSP & CPO

Knowing the EV charging industry complexity, I thought it would be a good idea to launch a series of blog posts on e-mobility fundamentals. The articles are to shed light on some of the topics that may not necessarily be clear to EV geeks!

Understanding the involved technologies and market players requires mapping out tons of complex systems, and it’s all followed by a specific terminology. The word e-mobility itself is an umbrella term for service providers, service customers, technology suppliers and product manufacturers (both software and hardware) that collectively operate within the EV (re-)charging business.

Beside the EV driver who wants to recharge her electric vehicle, we will encounter (frequently) these 2 terms: E-mobility Service Provider (eMSP) and Charge Point Operators (CPO).

These 2 business entities in addition to the EV drivers are the major parties in the EV charging marketplace. Please note that a business can take the role of an EMSP or a CPO separately, or serve both sides at the same time. Let’s dive into more details

E-mobility Service Provider (EMSP)

An E-mobility Service Provider is a business that provides access to a variety of charging points around a geographic area to EV drivers. EMSPs help its customers find charging stations, start charging transactions and pay with various methods.

As stated above, eMSP’s main role is to serve the end-users, so naturally the primary software used are mobile apps (available in App store). The app should provide to the EV drivers the following features:

  • Payment and billing: that supports multiple pricing plans and tariffs. It should support a variety of pricing models, including pre-paid, post-paid, ad hoc and group plans based on driver/station. eMSP needs to offer dynamic and static tariffs based on time of day, peak energy demands, etc.
  • Ease-of-use: EV drivers require streamlined account and payment management; reserve-ahead capabilities so they can reserve EV chargers where and when they need them; easy route planning; quick access to a customer service representative, etc.
  • Driver self-service tools: pricing transparency is critical so EV drivers can make informed decisions about their charging times and locations. EV drivers expect real-time billing data, with easy-to-understand, transparent bills, outlining prices, taxes, billing plans, and special offers.
  • EV Roaming: e-roaming gives drivers access to charging stations anywhere. The EMSP needs to integrate to leading e-roaming platforms like e-clearing.net, GIREVE, and Hubject, and provides authorization, token synchronization and transaction exchange.

Charge Point Operator (CPO)

If eMSP is the business that provides charging service directly to EV drivers. The service actually is the charging stations provided and managed by a CPO. A Charge Point Operator (CPO) is a business operating a pool of charging points or stations. A CPO provides value by connecting “smart” charging devices to EMSPs. Here are the main services the CPO should care about:

  • ensure that EV chargers are always available and stable, operating 24/7 without fail. Systems need to be in place to notify them any time a problem arises with the chargers — or automatically fix it where possible, reducing operating costs.
  • A CPO software platform needs to deliver real-time information necessary to optimize operations, analyzing business and technical data for efficient decision-making.
  • Furthermore, smart energy management helps reduce capital and operating costs by better managing energy demand during peak hours, integrating renewables, and storing battery power.

To summarize, we can differentiate between eMSP and CPO in terms of software they run to deliver their services:

  • eMSP can be seen as the frontend of e-mobility operations while CPO is the backend
  • eMSP’s software is customer-centric while CPO’s software is more operational
  • CPO is responsible for the growth of charging networks, their scalability and interoperability while eMSP is more about user experience and customer satisfaction.

In the next posts, we will dive more in the communications between the EV ecosystems and the technologies and standards in use. Stay tuned!

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Open modular API-first cloud EV charging PaaS for developers and operators

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Soulaiman Ghanem

Soulaiman Ghanem

Writes about technology, products and productivity

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